Objective: The authors compare open and laparoscopic appendectomy in a randomized fashion with regard to length of operation, complications, hospital stay, and recovery time. Methods: Adult patients (older than 14 years of age) with the diagnosis of acute appendicitis were randomized to either open or laparoscopic appendectomy over a 9-month period. All patients received preoperative antibiotics. The operative time was calculated as beginning with the incision and ending when the wound was fully closed. Patients that were converted from laparoscopic to open appendectomy were considered a separate group. Return to normal activity and work were determined by questioning during postoperative clinic, telephone, or mailed questionnaire. Results: There was a total of 169 patients randomized, 88 to the open and 81 to the laparoscopic group. The groups were similar demographically. Of the 81 laparoscopic patients, 13 (16%) were converted to open. In the open group, 70 patients (79.5%) had acute appendicitis and 21 (23.9%) had perforative appendicitis. In the laparoscopic group, 62 patients (76.5%) had acute appendicitis and 10 (12.3%) had perforative appendicitis. There was no statistical difference in the return to activity or work between the laparoscopic and open groups. The operative time was significantly longer in the laparoscopic group (102.2 minutes vs. 81.7 minutes, p < 0.01). The hospital stay of 2.2 days in the laparoscopic group and 4.3 days in the open group was statistically different (p = 0.007). There was no difference in the hospital stay for those with acute appendicitis (1.89 days vs. 2.61 days, p = 0.067) compared with those with a normal appendix but with pelvic inflammatory disease (1.1 days vs. 2.3 days, p = 0.11). There was a significant difference in patients with perforative appendicitis (1.6 days vs. 9.5 days, p < 001). The hospital cost for patients having laparoscopic appendectomy was $6077 and for an open appendectomy $7227 (p = 0.164). There were no increased complications associated with the laparoscopic technique. Conclusion: Laparoscopic appendectomy is comparable to open appendectomy with regard to complications, hospital stay, cost, return to activity, and return to work. There was a greater operative time involved with the laparoscopic technique. Laparoscopic appendectomy does not offer any significant benefit over the open approach for the routine patient with appendicitis.
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