Laparoscopic versus open appendectomy: A retrospective cohort study on the management of acute appendicitis (simple and complicated) in children under 13 years of age

Esi Botchway, Leszek Marcisz, Hermanus Schoeman, Prince Prah Kofi Botchway*, Ernest Matlou Mabitsela, Nyalweni Tshifularo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: Acute appendicitis is the most common surgical emergency with a lifetime incidence of 7%-8%. There are two operative modalities that are currently used for the management of this condition in the paediatric population. The objective of this cohort study was to review the outcome of the management of paediatric surgical patients presenting with acute appendicitis after either an open appendectomy (OA) or laparoscopic appendectomy (LA) was performed. Methods: This was a 2-year retrospective study conducted from 01 January 2016 until 31 December 2017 on paediatric surgical patients < 13 years of age undergoing appendectomies. Eighty-one (n = 81) files of patients were reviewed, and data analysis was performed on two comparative groups namely the OA group and LA group, with the aid of the SAS system with statistical significance based on P < 0.05. Results: During the study period, 81 children (male: female ratio of 2:1) underwent appendectomies. Nearly 38% (n = 31) of the cases had an OA, with 62% (n = 50) of the cases having an LA. Seven (14%) LA cases were converted to OA. Simple appendicitis accounted for 16% (n = 13) of the patients, with complicated appendicitis accounting for 79% (n = 64) and other pathologies accounting for 5% (n = 4). There were no post-operative complications in the cases of simple appendicitis. Six cases (15.38%) in the LA group versus two cases (5.26%) in the OA group developed intra-abdominal collections, which was statistically significant (P = 0.018). One (2.56%) patient in the LA group versus two patients (7.89%) in the OA group developed intestinal ileus (P = 0.09). Two patients (5.13%) in the LA group versus six patients (15.79%) in the OA group developed surgical-site infection, which was statistically significant (P = 0.013). The mean days of hospital stay was 4.51 days in the LA group versus 5.34 days in the OA group, which was statistically significant (P = 0.016). There were no re-admissions or re-operations in the simple appendicitis group. In the complicated appendicitis cases, five cases (12.82%) were re-admitted in the LA group compared to five cases (13.16%) in the OA group (P = 0.943). Two (5.13%) cases had a re-operation in the LA group compared to one case (2.63%) in the OA group (P = 0.360). Conclusion: Considering that there was an increased incidence of complicated cases and operations being performed by trainees, LA appears feasible at a tertiary-level hospital in a developing country, as shown in this study. Therefore, cases of simple appendicitis can be performed laparoscopically; however with regard to complicated appendicitis, there is no superiority between the two operative modalities in this study, which is consistent with international literature. However, in this study, it can be postulated that the learning curve was a major contributory factor to the increased levels of complications, as all operations were performed by trainees. Therefore, we recommend implementation of adequate simulation practices in laparoscopy in the setting of a developing country to attain the laparoscopic expertise of our international counterparts in order to improve the standard of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-186
Number of pages5
JournalAfrican Journal of Paediatric Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute appendicitis
  • appendectomy
  • comparative study
  • laparoscopic appendectomy
  • minimal invasive surgery
  • open appendectomy
  • paediatric surgery


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