Taking antibiotics is just as effective for appendicitis as having an ...

Having an operation to remove your appendix may become a thing of the past after a study found antibiotics are just as effective as the surgery.

Doctors split 1,500 patients who suddenly fell ill with appendicitis, which makes the organ swollen and painful, into two groups.

Half of the volunteers received a course of antibiotics, while all the others had their organ removed as part of the routine surgery. 

More than 70 per cent of patients given antibiotics dodged surgery in the following three months, according to results of the University of Washington research.  

They endured fewer sick days off of work or school, compared to participants who underwent surgery. And patients in both groups reported similar rates of recovery a month after treatment. 

The findings suggest thousands of the operations could be avoided if doctors relied on antibiotics in the first instance. 

And the scientists noted in their paper that antibiotics may become more standard as a treatment for appendicitis now that hospitals are stretched to deal with Covid-19 patients and a backlog of routine operations. 

Appendix removal could become a thing of the past because antibiotics are just as effective as having surgery, a study has found. Stock of appendix being removed

Appendix removal could become a thing of the past because antibiotics are just as effective as having surgery, a study has found. Stock of appendix being removed

The NHS says around 50,000 people in England are admitted to hospital each year with appendicitis. 

Inflammation of the appendix, a thin finger-like tube at the top of the colon, causes an intense pain in the lower right side of the body and sometimes constipation or diarrhoea. 

The most common form of treatment is surgery, called an appendectomy, to take out the appendix straight away.

The NHS says: 'If you have appendicitis, it's likely your appendix will need to be removed as soon as possible.'


Appendicitis is a swelling of the appendix, a two to four-inch-long organ connected to the large intestine.

Appendicitis can cause severe pain and it's important for it to be treated swiftly in case the appendix bursts, which can cause life-threatening illness.

In most cases surgeons will remove the appendix in an appendectomy – scientists aren't sure why people need an appendix but removing it does not harm people.

The causes of appendicitis aren't clear but it is thought to be caused by something blocking the entrance to the organ.

Symptoms include pain in the stomach which later travels to your lower right-hand-side and becomes severe. 

Pressing on this area, coughing, or walking can all make the pain worse, and other symptoms can be nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and a fever.

Source: NHS 


During surgery, the appendix is removed from the body after doctors make three or four tiny incisions in the abdomen. The cuts are closed with staples or stitches.

After the routine surgery, most patients are able to go home the next day and return to normal activities after about one week.

But as with any surgery, there are risks. Around one in ten patients suffer side effects from the operation itself, such as catching a skin infection. 

Several European studies have shown that most people with appendicitis can be treated successfully with antibiotics instead of having surgery. 

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