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Original Investigation |

Time to Appendectomy and Risk of Perforation in Acute Appendicitis

Frederick Thurston Drake, MD, MPH1,2,3; Neli E. Mottey, BS1,2; Ellen T. Farrokhi, MD, MPH2,4; Michael G. Florence, MD5; Morris G. Johnson, MD6; Charles Mock, MD, PhD1,3; Scott R. Steele, MD7; Richard C. Thirlby, MD8; David R. Flum, MD, MPH1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Surgery, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
2University of Washington Surgical Outcomes Research Center, Seattle
3Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle
4Providence Regional Medical Center, Everett, Washington
5Department of Surgery, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, Washington
6Skagit Valley Hospital, Mt Vernon, Washington
7Department of Surgery, Madigan Army Medical Center, Ft Lewis, Tacoma, Washington
8Department of Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington
JAMA Surg. 2014;149(8):837-844. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.77.
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Importance  In the traditional model of acute appendicitis, time is the major driver of disease progression; luminal obstruction leads inexorably to perforation without timely intervention. This perceived association has long guided clinical behavior related to the timing of appendectomy.

Objective  To evaluate whether there is an association between time and perforation after patients present to the hospital.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Using data from the Washington State Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program (SCOAP), we evaluated patterns of perforation among patients (≥18 years) who underwent appendectomy from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2011. Patients were treated at 52 diverse hospitals including urban tertiary centers, a university hospital, small community and rural hospitals, and hospitals within multi-institutional organizations.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcome of interest was perforation as diagnosed on final pathology reports. The main predictor of interest was elapsed time as measured between presentation to the hospital and operating room (OR) start time. The relationship between in-hospital time and perforation was adjusted for potential confounding using multivariate logistic regression. Additional predictors of interest included sex, age, number of comorbid conditions, race and/or ethnicity, insurance status, and hospital characteristics such as community type and appendectomy volume.

Results  A total of 9048 adults underwent appendectomy (15.8% perforated). Mean time from presentation to OR was the same (8.6 hours) for patients with perforated and nonperforated appendicitis. In multivariate analysis, increasing time to OR was not a predictor of perforation, either as a continuous variable (odds ratio =  1.0 [95% CI, 0.99-1.01]) or when considered as a categorical variable (patients ordered by elapsed time and divided into deciles). Factors associated with perforation were male sex, increasing age, 3 or more comorbid conditions, and lack of insurance.

Conclusions and Relevance  There was no association between perforation and in-hospital time prior to surgery among adults treated with appendectomy. These findings may reflect selection of those at higher risk of perforation for earlier intervention or the effect of antibiotics begun at diagnosis but they are also consistent with the hypothesis that perforation is most often a prehospital occurrence and/or not strictly a time-dependent phenomenon. These findings may also guide decisions regarding personnel and resource allocation when considering timing of nonelective appendectomy.

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Percentage of Perforation by Deciles of Time From Presentation to Operating Room Start

Patients were ordered by time to treatment and divided into deciles. Percentage of perforation and 95% CIs were calculated for each decile. The range of elapsed time from hospital presentation to operating room start time is shown for each decile (ie, the shortest time and the longest time for each decile).

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