Eliminating Use of Home Oral Antibiotics in Pediatric Complicated Appendicitis

Published:February 27, 2021DOI:


      • Management of antibiotics after pediatric perforated appendicitis is variable.
      • No antibiotics at discharge did not increase abscess rates or readmissions.
      • Multi-institutional studies are needed for optimal management of antibiotics.



      Postoperative oral antibiotic management at discharge for perforated appendicitis varies by institution. A prior study at our institution led to a decrease in antibiotic therapy in patients without leukocytosis. A subsequent protocol change eliminated the white blood cell count check and oral antibiotics if discharge criteria were met by postoperative day seven. We hypothesized this change could be made without an increase in abscess or readmission rates.


      We conducted a retrospective review of patients with perforated appendicitis over two 1-year periods after institutional review board approval (262061). In the pre-protocol group, a white blood cell count was checked at discharge and patients with leukocytosis were prescribed oral antibiotics to complete a total of 7 d. In the post-protocol group, no white blood cell count was checked and patients were discharged home without antibiotics.


      There were a total of 174 patients with complicated appendicitis in the two 1-year periods with 129 (74%) patients with perforated appendicitis discharged before postoperative day seven. The pre-protocol group included 71 children, and post-protocol included 58 children. There were no differences between mean postoperative days to discharge (2.57 versus 3, P = 0.0896), postoperative abscess rate (12.7% versus 12.1%, P = 1.0000), or readmission rate (12.7% versus 17.2%, P = 0.6184). None of the patients in the post-protocol group were discharged home with oral antibiotics compared with 22.5% in the pre-protocol group (P < 0.001).


      For pediatric patients with perforated appendicitis discharged before postoperative day seven, stopping antibiotics at the time of discharge significantly decreased our home antibiotic use without an increase in postoperative morbidity.


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