Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 2072–2082 | Cite as

Laparoscopic appendicectomy is superior to open surgery for complicated appendicitis

  • Gaik S. Quah
  • Guy D. Eslick
  • Michael R. CoxEmail author
Review Article



Over the last three decades, laparoscopic appendicectomy (LA) has become the routine treatment for uncomplicated acute appendicitis. The role of laparoscopic surgery for complicated appendicitis (gangrenous and/or perforated) remains controversial due to concerns of an increased incidence of post-operative intra-abdominal abscesses (IAA) in LA compared to open appendicectomy (OA). The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of LA versus OA for complicated appendicitis.


A systematic literature search following PRISMA guidelines was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and Cochrane Database for randomised controlled trials (RCT) and case–control studies (CCS) that compared LA with OA for complicated appendicitis.


Data from three RCT and 30 CCS on 6428 patients (OA 3,254, LA 3,174) were analysed. There was no significant difference in the rate of IAA (LA = 6.1% vs. OA = 4.6%; OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.71–1.47, p = 0.91). LA for complicated appendicitis has decreased overall post-operative morbidity (LA = 15.5% vs. OA = 22.7%; OR = 0.43, 95% CI: 0.31–0.59, p < 0.0001), wound infection, (LA = 4.7% vs. OA = 12.8%; OR = 0.26, 95% CI: 0.19–0.36, p < 0.001), respiratory complications (LA = 1.8% vs. OA = 6.4%; OR = 0.25, 95% CI: 0.13–0.49, p < 0.001), post-operative ileus/small bowel obstruction (LA = 3.1% vs. OA = 3.6%; OR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.42–1.0, p = 0.048) and mortality rate (LA = 0% vs. OA = 0.4%; OR = 0.15, 95% CI: 0.04–0.61, p = 0.008). LA has a significantly shorter hospital stay (6.4 days vs. 8.9 days, p = 0.02) and earlier resumption of solid food (2.7 days vs. 3.7 days, p = 0.03).


These results clearly demonstrate that LA for complicated appendicitis has the same incidence of IAA but a significantly reduced morbidity, mortality and length of hospital stay compared with OA. The finding of complicated appendicitis at laparoscopy is not an indication for conversion to open surgery. LA should be the preferred treatment for patients with complicated appendicitis.


Laparoscopic appendicectomy Open appendicectomy Complicated appendicitis Gangrenous appendicitis Perforated appendicitis Appendiceal abscess 


Compliance with ethical standards


Gaik S. Quah, Guy D. Eslick and Michael R. Cox have no conflict of interest or financial disclosures to declare.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Whiteley-Martin Research Centre, Discipline of SurgeryThe University of Sydney, Nepean HospitalPenrithAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of SurgeryThe University of Sydney, Nepean HospitalPenrithAustralia

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