Treating appendicitis with antibiotics

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Q: I've read that surgery may not be the only way to treat appendicitis. What do I need to know about treating appendicitis with antibiotics?

A: For parents wanting to steer clear of surgery, a possible treatment option to discuss with their physician is a regimen of antibiotics that could be a possible alternative to an appendectomy.

According to a recent pilot study led by a team at Nationwide Children's Hospital, using antibiotics alone to treat uncomplicated appendicitis leads to fewer missed school days and less pain. In the study, 30 patients were admitted and given intravenous antibiotics for at least 24 hours, followed by oral antibiotics for 10 days following release. Ninety-three percent of patients showed improvement within 24 hours.

Antibiotics are not necessarily better than surgery. In this study, patients and their families were offered the choice between surgery or antibiotics alone. The best treatment option will be different for each family, and depends on their specific concerns and values.

Symptoms of appendicitis include abdominal pain (near the bellybutton or in lower right side), low-grade fever, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, constipation or diarrhea and a swollen/bloated abdomen. Parents shouldn'tbe afraid to ask their doctor about treatment options, including involved risks or anything else pertaining to their child. Decisions about a child's health should involve kids, when they are old enough to understand the issue.

-Dr. Peter Minneci is Surgical Director of the Intestinal Support Service and the Principal Investigator for the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice at Nationwide Children's Hospital.