Appendicitis is a very common condition, impacting almost 1 out of 5 people. Unless you have had your appendix removed, you are at risk for appendicitis. For over 100 years, the primary treatment for appendicitis has been the surgical removal of the appendix, called an appendectomy. In Europe, and more recently the United States, some doctors have started to challenge the notion that appendectomy is needed, instead treating with antibiotics alone. The advantage of a non-surgical approach to treatment is avoiding the risks to patients that come with surgery. However, while non-surgical treatment appears to be safe, people only receiving antibiotics remain at risk for appendicitis in the future. It is not clear if treatment with antibiotics alone is as effective as appendectomy in the long run or which treatment approach is preferred or considered better by patients.
The goal of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) is to assess the benefits and harms of treatment options to help inform decision-making, and the treatment of appendicitis is a great example of an area where PCOR is needed.
Given the lack of clear evidence to inform the best treatments for patients with appendicitis, surgeons at CERTAIN hospitals in Washington State are developing a study to answer this question: is treating patients with antibiotics alone as effective as appendectomy? We are looking for input from patients, clinicians, policymakers and others to guide our next steps and hope you will answer a few brief questions!