Complications

Complications table
ComplicationTimeframeLikelihood

perforation

short termlow

May occur after >12 hours of progressive appendiceal inflammation.

Usually a consequence of a delay in seeking medical treatment.

Presents with more severe abdominal pain, high fever (>101°F [38.3°C]), localized tenderness, and decreased bowel sounds.

Appendectomy should be performed in all cases. Procedure can be open or laparoscopic. [ Cochrane Clinical Answers logo ]

generalized peritonitis

short termlow

Large perforation of acutely inflamed appendix results in generalized peritonitis.

Presents with an acute abdomen (high fever, diffuse abdominal pain, generalized tenderness, and absent bowel sounds).

If the diagnosis is suspected as acute appendicitis, appendectomy can be performed. If diagnosis is in doubt, exploratory laparotomy should be performed through midline incision, and the appendix, if inflamed, should be removed.

appendicular mass

short termlow

Usually due to delay in medical treatment.

Presents with tender right lower quadrant mass. Ultrasonography or computed tomography scan will show a mass. 

If the patient appears otherwise well, the initial management is conservative treatment with intravenous fluids and broad-spectrum antibiotics. If there is clinical improvement and the signs and symptoms are completely resolved, then there is no need for interval appendectomy.[72][73][74] Interval appendectomy is performed after 6 weeks if the symptoms are not completely resolved.[75]

In older patients, carcinoma should be excluded.

appendicular abscess

short termlow

Usually occurs as a progression of the disease process, particularly after perforation.

Presents with tender right lower quadrant mass, swinging fever, and leukocytosis.

Ultrasonography or computed tomography (CT) scan will show the abscess.

Initial treatment includes intravenous antibiotics and CT-guided drainage of abscess.

If there is clinical improvement and the signs and symptoms are completely resolved, then there is no need for interval appendectomy.[72][73][74] Interval appendectomy is performed after 6 weeks if the symptoms are not completely resolved.[75] There is evidence to suggest that laparoscopic appendectomy may be a feasible first-line option over conservative treatment for appendiceal abscess in adults; however, one systematic review was unable to find evidence for either benefit or harm from early appendectomy (laparoscopic or open) versus conservative treatment for appendiceal abscess.[76][77]

surgical wound infection

short termlow

Decreased incidence if laparoscopic approach and prophylactic antibiotic used.[69] [ Cochrane Clinical Answers logo ]

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