Development and Implications of an Evidence-based and Public Health-relevant Definition of Complicated Appendicitis in Children

Danielle B. Cameron, Seema P. Anandalwar, Dionne A. Graham, Patrice Melvin, Stephanie K. Serres, Jonathan L. Dunlap, Mark Kashtan, Matthew Hall, Jacqueline M. Saito, Douglas C. Barnhart, Brian D. Kenney, Shawn J. Rangel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective:To characterize the influence of intraoperative findings on complications and resource utilization as a means to establish an evidence-based and public health-relevant definition for complicated appendicitis.Summary of Background Data:Consensus is lacking surrounding the definition of complicated appendicitis in children. Establishment of a consensus definition may have implications for standardizing the reporting of clinical research data and for refining reimbursement guidelines.Methods:This was a retrospective cohort study of patients ages 3 to 18 years who underwent appendectomy from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014 across 22 children's hospitals (n = 5002). Intraoperative findings and clinical data from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program-Pediatric Appendectomy Pilot Database were merged with cost data from the Pediatric Health Information System Database. Multivariable regression was used to examine the influence of 4 intraoperative findings [visible hole (VH), diffuse fibrinopurulent exudate (DFE) extending outside the right lower quadrant (RLQ)/pelvis, abscess, and extra-luminal fecalith] on complication rates and resource utilization after controlling for patient and hospital-level characteristics.Results:At least 1 of the 4 intraoperative findings was reported in 26.6% (1333/5002) of all cases. Following adjustment, each of the 4 findings was independently associated with higher rates of adverse events compared with cases where the findings were absent (VH: OR 5.57 [95% CI 3.48-8.93], DFE: OR 4.65[95% CI 2.91-7.42], abscess: OR 8.96[95% CI 5.33-15.08], P < 0.0001, fecalith: OR 5.01[95% CI 2.02-12.43], P = 0.001), and higher rates of revisits (VH: OR 2.02 [95% CI 1.34-3.04], P = 0.001, DFE: OR 1.59[95% CI 1.07-2.37], P = 0.02, abscess: OR 2.04[95% CI 1.2-3.49], P = 0.01, fecalith: OR 2.31[95% CI 1.06-5.02], P = 0.04). Each of the 4 findings was also independently associated with increased resource utilization, including longer cumulative length of stay (VH: Rate ratio [RR] 3.15[95% CI 2.86-3.46], DFE: RR 3.06 [95% CI 2.83-3.13], abscess: RR 3.94 [95% CI 3.55-4.37], fecalith: RR 2.35 [95% CI 1.87-2.96], P =  < 0.0001) and higher cumulative hospital cost (VH: RR 1.97[95% CI 1.64-2.37], P < 0.0001, DFE: RR 1.8[95% CI 1.55-2.08], P =  < 0.0001, abscess: RR 2.02[95% CI 1.61-2.53], P < 0.0001, fecalith: RR 1.49[95% CI 0.98-2.28], P = 0.06) compared with cases where the findings were absent.Conclusion and Relevance:The presence of a visible hole, diffuse fibrinopurulent exudate, intra-abdominal abscess, and extraluminal fecalith were independently associated with markedly worse outcomes and higher cost in children with appendicitis. The results of this study provide an evidence-based and public health-relevant framework for defining complicated appendicitis in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-968
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • complicated appendicitis
  • evidence-based definition
  • pediatric appendicitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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