Article of interest: A randomized trial comparing antibiotics with appendectomy for appendicitis

CODA Collaborative, Flum DR, Davidson GH, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Antibiotics with Appendectomy for Appendicitis. N Engl J Med. 2020 Nov 12;383(20): 1907-1919.

Full-text for Emory users.

Figure 2. Cumulative Incidence of Appendectomy in the Antibiotics Group. Plus signs indicate censoring because the participant withdrew or was lost to follow-up.

Background: Antibiotic therapy has been proposed as an alternative to surgery for the treatment of appendicitis.

Methods: We conducted a pragmatic, nonblinded, noninferiority, randomized trial comparing antibiotic therapy (10-day course) with appendectomy in patients with appendicitis at 25 U.S. centers. The primary outcome was 30-day health status, as assessed with the European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D) questionnaire (scores range from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating better health status; noninferiority margin, 0.05 points). Secondary outcomes included appendectomy in the antibiotics group and complications through 90 days; analyses were prespecified in subgroups defined according to the presence or absence of an appendicolith.

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Article of interest: A randomized trial comparing antibiotics with appendectomy for appendicitis.

CODA Collaborative, Flum DR, et al. A randomized trial comparing antibiotics with appendectomy for appendicitis. N Engl J Med. 2020 Oct 5. [Epub ahead of print.]

Full-text for Emory users.

Results: In total, 1552 adults (414 with an appendicolith) underwent randomization; 776 were assigned to receive antibiotics (47% of whom were not hospitalized for the index treatment) and 776 to undergo appendectomy (96% of whom underwent a laparoscopic procedure). Antibiotics were noninferior to appendectomy on the basis of 30-day EQ-5D scores (mean difference, 0.01 points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.001 to 0.03). In the antibiotics group, 29% had undergone appendectomy by 90 days, including 41% of those with an appendicolith and 25% of those without an appendicolith. Complications were more common in the antibiotics group than in the appendectomy group (8.1 vs. 3.5 per 100 participants; rate ratio, 2.28; 95% CI, 1.30 to 3.98); the higher rate in the antibiotics group could be attributed to those with an appendicolith (20.2 vs. 3.6 per 100 participants; rate ratio, 5.69; 95% CI, 2.11 to 15.38) and not to those without an appendicolith (3.7 vs. 3.5 per 100 participants; rate ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.45 to 2.43). The rate of serious adverse events was 4.0 per 100 participants in the antibiotics group and 3.0 per 100 participants in the appendectomy group (rate ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 0.67 to 2.50).

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Preoperative communication with older patients and their families about high-risk surgical outcomes

Berian JR, et al. Association of Loss of Independence With Readmission and Death After Discharge in Older Patients After Surgical Procedures. JAMA Surg. 2016 Sep 21;151(9): e161689.

Full-text for Emory users.

Results: Of the 5077 patients included in this study, 2736 (53.9%) were female and 3876 (76.3%) were white, with a mean (SD) age of 75 (7) years. For this cohort, LOI increased with age; LOI occurred in 1386 of 2780 patients (49.9%) aged 65 to 74 years, 1162 of 1726 (67.3%) aged 75 to 84 years, and 479 of 571 (83.9%) 85 years and older (P < .001). Readmission occurred in 517 patients (10.2%). In a risk-adjusted model, LOI was strongly associated with readmission (odds ratio, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.4-2.2) and postoperative complication (odds ratio, 6.7; 95% CI, 4.9-9.0). Death after discharge occurred in 69 patients (1.4%). After risk adjustment, LOI was the strongest factor associated with death after discharge (odds ratio, 6.7; 95% CI, 2.4-19.3). Postoperative complication was not significantly associated with death after discharge.

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AAA repair: retroperitoneal vs transperitoneal approach

One discussion this week included transperitoneal vs retroperitoneal  approach following AAA repair.

Reference: Buck DB, et al. Transperitoneal vs retroperitoneal approach for open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair in the targeted vascular NSQIP. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2016 Sept;64(3):585-591. doi:10/1016/j.jvs.2016.01.055.

Summary: This study aims to identify the demographic and anatomical differences between patients currently selected for elective transperitoneal versus retroperitoneal AAA repair and to assess differences in intra-operative details, and perioperative mortality and complications.

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Open vs endovascular revascularization for acute limb ischemia: a review of major trials

One discussion this week involved open surgical versus endovascular revascularization for acute limb ischemia (ALI).

Reference: Wang JC, Kim AH, Kashyap VS. Open surgical or endovascular revascularization for acute limb ischemia. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2016 Jan;63(1):270-278. doi:10/1016/j.jvs.2015.09.055.

Summary: Peripheral arterial disease affects approximately 10 million Americans. It can lead to lower extremity ischemic rest pain or tissue loss (Rutherford classification 4 to 6, or Fontaine classification III and IV). Acute limb ischemia (ALI) is defined as the presence of symptoms within 2 weeks of onset. ALI pathogenesis includes vascular stenoses with subsequent in situ thrombosis or thromboembolism from a cardiac or aortoiliac source. Stenotic lesions may indicate untreated comorbidities (eg, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, or tobacco use), whereas thromboembolisms implicate undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction (MI), or mural thrombus. Limb loss risk due to ALI can be as high as 40% with an attendant mortality rate of 15% to 20% (p.270).

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True or False: Atelectasis as cause of postoperative fever.

One discussion this week included atelectasis as a potential cause of postoperative fever.

Reference: Crompton JG, Crompton PD, Matzinger P. Does atelectasis cause fever after surgery? Putting a damper on dogma. JAMA Surgery. 2019 Mar 6:154(5):375-376. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.5645.

Summary: Fever and atelectasis are common after surgery, and in the absence of infectious causative mechanisms, atelectasis is commonly thought to be a cause of fever. The therapeutic implication of atelectasis as a putative cause of postoperative fever has been the widespread adoption of incentive spirometry to reduce atelectasis.

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Step-up vs open necrosectomy for pancreatitis: the PANTER trial’s 2019 followup

One discussion this week included the question of step-up approach versus open necrosectomy for pancreatitis.


BACKGROUND: The 2010 randomized PANTER trial in (infected) necrotizing pancreatitis found a minimally invasive step-up approach to be superior to primary open necrosectomy for the primary combined endpoint of mortality and major complications, but long-term results are unknown.

NEW FINDINGS: With extended follow-up, in the step-up group, patients had fewer incisional hernias, less exocrine insufficiency and a trend towards less endocrine insufficiency. No differences between groups were seen for recurrent or chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic endoscopic or surgical interventions, quality of life or costs.

IMPACT: Considering both short and long-term results, the step-up approach is superior to open necrosectomy for the treatment of infected necrotizing pancreatitis.

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Surgeon’s choice: TEP or TAPP for recurrent inguinal hernia repair?

One discussion involved the comparison of outcomes for TEP and TAPP for hernia repair.

Reference: Kockerling F, et al. TEP or TAPP for recurrent inguinal hernia repair-registered-based comparison of the outcome. Surgical Endoscopy. 2017 Oct;31(10):3872-3882. doi: 10.1007/s00464-017-5416-1

Summary: To date, no randomized trials have been conducted to compare the TEP vs TAPP outcome for recurrent inguinal hernia repair. Between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2013 data were entered into the Herniamed Registry on a total of 2246 patients with recurrent inguinal hernia repair following previous open primary operation in either TAPP (n = 1,464) or TEP technique (n = 782).

  • TAPP group: recurrent repair was performed for n=974/1,464 (66.5%) patients after suture and n=490/1,464 (33.5%) after mesh repair.
  • TEP group: recurrent repair was performed for n=554/782 (70.8%) patients following previous suture repair and for n=228/782 (29.2%) after mesh repair.

No significant differences were found between the recurrent operations in TEP vs TAPP technique with regard to the intraoperative complications, complication-related reoperations, re-recurrence rates, rates of pain at rest, pain on exertion, or chronic pain requiring treatment. Unfavorable results were identified only with regard to the higher seroma rates associated with TAPP; these responded to conservative treatment.

In summary, both TEP and TAPP can be recommended as effective techniques for treatment of recurrent inguinal hernia following previous open primary operation. The decision to use one or the other technique should be based solely on the surgeon’s expertise. The registry study presented here thus confirms the recommendations in the guidelines on laparo-endoscopic treatment of recurrent inguinal hernia following previous open primary operation.


Pro vs Con: thrombolysis for submassive PE

One discussion this week included thrombolysis for submassive PE.

References: Howard LS. Thrombolytic therapy for submassive pulmonary embolus? PRO viewpoint. Thorax. 2014 Feb;69(2):103-105.

Simpson AJ. Thrombolysis for acute submassive pulmonary embolism: CON viewpoint. Thorax. 2014 Feb;69(2):105-107.

Summary:  The normotensive patient with confirmed pulmonary embolism (PE) and right ventricular (RV) dilatation presents a significant dilemma to clinicians. On one hand, a string of publications have demonstrated that RV dysfunction is associated with adverse outcomes in patients with PE; on the other, thrombolysis carries a significant risk of bleeding. The real problem of course (and part of the reason for having this important debate) is that we have no reliable and accurate tools to pinpoint the important minority of patients with submassive PE who genuinely might benefit from thrombolysis or perhaps from surgical embolectomy

PRO: In proposing the argument that submassive PE should be treated with thrombolysis, we must first accept that direct mortality due to the PE itself, not confounding conditions, remains unacceptably high with anticoagulation alone. A more aggressive strategy is required. As long as the benefits of thrombolysis outweigh the risks, then thrombolysis offers the best currently available approach. When this is coupled with the further benefits of likely reduction in CTEPH, the case becomes even stronger.

Outcomes in patients with true submassive PE remain unacceptably high and thrombolysis has been shown to improve surrogate outcomes for mortality as well as long-term complications. The risks from thrombolysis are low, and when reduced doses are used, evidence so far suggests no decrease in benefit, but a further reduction in bleeding.

CON: The emerging picture is that, at the point of presentation, patients with submassive PE are highly likely to survive if treated with heparin alone and that the associated RV dilatation is likely to resolve spontaneously in the significant majority. The nagging doubt, of course, surrounds the small proportion of patients who will have persistent RV dysfunction, particularly as this group seems vulnerable to recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE).

However attractive it may be theoretically, we have no strong evidence to inform whether early thrombolysis can reduce VTE recurrence—we know that longer-term anticoagulation does. Similarly, we have no evidence that early thrombolysis reduces the risk of CTEPH, yet modern treatments significantly improve outcomes for this important
complication. So, instead of early thrombolysis, why not repeat echocardiography at 3 months, prolong anticoagulation in those with persistent RV impairment and assess carefully for evidence of CTEPH in the ensuing period?

Please see the full text of these editorials (linked above in references) for the full argument and citations.