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Treatment of appendiceal mass – a qualitative systematic review

Jesper Olsen1, Jan Skovdal1, Niels Qvist2 & Thue Bisgaard3 From: 1) Department of Surgery, Køge-Roskilde Hospital, 2)Department of Surgery, Odense University Hospital, 3)Department of surgery, Hvidovre Hospital


The treatment strategy for appendiceal mass is controversial, ranging from operation or image-guided drainage to conservative treatment with or without antibiotics. The aim of this study was to assess the various treatment modalities with respect to complications and treatment failure.


The analysis was based on the principles of a qualitative systematic review. The literature was searched in PubMed for the period from 1966 to March 2014. The articles were reviewed with respect to complications, treatment failure and hospital stay. Papers on post-operative intra-abdominal abscesses and abscesses of any cause other than appendicitis were excluded as were also studies only describing recurrent appendicitis and/or interval appendectomy. Sub-analyses were performed in children, adults, and in mixed populations.


A total of 48 studies were found eligible; they included in total 3,772 patients. Operation for appendiceal mass was beset with a moderate to high risk of complications of up to 57% and a risk of intestinal resection of up to 25%. Major complications were observed in up to 18% of cases. Conservative treatment with or without antibiotics was associated with a treatment
failure rate of 8-15%. Drainage was beset with a risk of complications of 2-15% and a risk of treatment failure of 2-13%.


Operation with appendectomy for appendiceal mass carries a high risk of complications compared with conservative treatment or drainage. Drainage may lower the risk of treatment failure but entails a risk of complications. Based on the best evidence, we propose a step-down treatment strategy.


Not relevant.

Trial registration

Not relevant.

Correspondence: Jesper Olsen. E-mail:

Accepted: 20 May, 2014

Conflicts of interest: Disclosure forms provided by the authors are available with the full text of this article at

Reference: Dan Med J 2014;61(8):A4881

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