Intra-abdominal Abscess After Appendectomy-Are Drains Necessary in All Patients?

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2020.05.016


Background: Research has shown that patients who develop a postoperative intra-abdominal abscess (PIAA) after appendectomy have a greater number of health care visits with drain placement. Our institution developed an algorithm to limit drain placement for only abscesses with a size >20 cm2. We sought to determine the adherence to and effectiveness of this algorithm.

Methods: This prospective observational study included patients aged 2-18 y old who developed a PIAA from September 2017 to June 2019. Outcomes were compared between patients with a small or large abscess. Analysis was performed in STATA; P < 0.05 was significant.

Results: Thirty patients were included. The median age was 10.6 y (7, 11.7); 60% were men, and 60% were Caucasian. The median duration of symptoms before diagnosis of appendicitis was 3 d (2, 6). Thirteen patients (43%) were diagnosed with a PIAA while still inpatient, and 17 (57%) were readmitted at a later date. After algorithm implementation, 95% (n = 19) of patients with a large abscess had aspiration ± drain placement, whereas 30% (n = 3) with a small abscess underwent drainage. Length of stay after abscess diagnosis, total duration of antibiotics, and number of health care visits were the same between groups. One patient with a small abscess required reoperation for an obstruction, whereas one patient with a large abscess that was drained was readmitted for a recurrent abscess.

Conclusions: Small PIAA can be successfully managed without intervention. Our proposed algorithm can assist in determining which patients can be treated with antibiotics alone.

Journal Title

The Journal of surgical research



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Last Page



Pediatrics; Perforated appendicitis; Postoperative abscess

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