The Impact of Postoperative Abscess Formation in Perforated Appendicitis

Published:April 14, 2011DOI:


      Abscess after appendectomy for perforated appendicitis is the most common complication. We have completed three prospective trials and are conducting a fourth in which the included patients had either a hole in the appendix or a fecalith in the abdomen identified at the time of operation. The abscess rate in each of these trials was 20%. Multiple publications have focused on prevention and management of this postoperative complication but the total impact of an abscess on the hospital course has not been well documented. Therefore, we reviewed our experience with patients who developed a postoperative abscess to evaluate the total care received compared with those who recovered uneventfully.


      Data from patients with abscess who have been enrolled in our prospective trials from April 2005 to December 2009 were utilized. Patients who recovered without complications in the most recent trial served as a comparison group, as this protocol offers the minimal length of stay without a predetermined length of stay. Data comparison included patient demographics, admission lab values, hospital length of stay, and hospital charges.


      There were 63 patients with a postoperative abscess and 61 patients without an abscess identified. Patients with an abscess were older (11.0 versus 9.7 y, P = 0.04) and had a higher mean body mass index (22.4 versus 19.5, P = 0.03). Total hospital length of stay was significantly longer in the abscess group (11.6 d versus 5.1 d, P ≤ 0.001). Total hospital charges doubled for patients who developed an abscess ($82,000 versus $40,000 P < 0.001).


      A postoperative abscess after appendectomy for perforated appendicitis translates into an average of an extra week in hospital care with double the total hospital cost.

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