Antibiotics can replace invasive surgery for the treatment of acute appendicitis involving the removal of the organ, as it could be just as effective, a new study has found.
The study also found that patients who are treated with antibiotics are at lower risk of complications than those who undergo surgery.
"Some patients are so ill that the operation is absolutely necessary, but 80 per cent of those who can be treated with antibiotics recover and return to full health," said Jeanette Hansson, said in a statement.
The risk of recurrence within 12 months of treatment with antibiotics is around 10-15 per cent.
Hansson from the university of Gothenburg, Sweden, defended her thesis on the subject, which refers to two major clinical studies of adult patients, carried out at Sahlgrenska Hospital and Kungalv Hospital, respectively.
Even though increased resistance to antibiotics could also affect treatment, the conclusion is that antibiotics are a viable alternative to surgery in adult patients as things stand, provided that the patient accepts the risk of recurrence.
"It's important to note that our studies show that patients who need surgery because of recurrences, or because the antibiotics haven't worked, are not at risk of any additional complications relative to those operated on in the first place," said Hansson.
Appendicitis is a serious condition involving the appendix (a tube-shaped sac attached to and opening into the lower end of the large intestine), which becomes inflamed and painful, causing abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fever.
The standard approach to acute appendicitis is to remove the appendix.