Increased use of laparoscopy in acute right iliac fossa pain - is it good for patients?
Jones GE., Kreckler S., Shah A., Stechman MJ., Handa A.
AIM: The use of laparoscopy, with or without appendicectomy, is becoming more common in the management of acute right iliac fossa (RIF) pain, but little is known of the 'unintended' consequences of this change. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of increased use of laparoscopy on the number and type of patients treated surgically and on the rate of negative appendicectomy. METHOD: A prospective audit was carried out of admissions to a teaching hospital over two, 3-month periods during 2007 and 2008. The management, investigations and outcome of patients presenting with RIF pain were studied. RESULTS: Admissions were stable over the two time-periods. There was a significant increase in the number of laparoscopic operations performed, from 22.5% (14/62) in 2007 to 85.7% (72/84) in 2008 (P < 0.0001), and the percentage of patients undergoing surgery rose from 55.4% (n = 62) in 2007 to 71.2% (n = 84) in 2008 (P < 0.01). In 2008, female patients were more likely to have surgery, an increase from 37.1% to 66.2% (P < 0.001), and were more likely to have a laparoscopic procedure, an increase from 50% to 98% (P < 0.0001). The rate of histologically confirmed appendicitis did not increase significantly (50/122 vs 57/118; P = 0.25), but the number of patients with a normal appendix either left in situ because it was macroscopically normal or found to be histologically normal following excision, increased significantly, from 9.01% in 2007 to 21.2% in 2008 (P < 0.01). The diagnostic value of pelvic ultrasound decreased from 75.6% of examinations in 2007 to 54.5% in 2008 (P = 0.039). CONCLUSION: An increase in laparoscopic procedures has resulted in more operations in women, an associated higher negative appendicectomy rate and decreased usefulness of pelvic ultrasound. Increased use of laparoscopy needs to be balanced against the diagnostic benefits of 'negative' laparoscopy.