Children with perforated appendicitis often have a prolonged hospital course complicated by surgical site or intra-abdominal infections. Treatment with multiple intravenous (IV) antibiotics after appendectomy has been the standard of care for these patients. We have recently adopted a protocol using piperacillin-tazobactam (PT) as a single agent in lieu of the standard multi-drug regimen (MD). We hypothesized that PT would be as effective as MD in reducing postoperative complications and would result in decreased resource utilization.
We reviewed the medical records of all children admitted to our hospital between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2001 with the diagnosis of perforated appendicitis. Patients who underwent operation within the first 24 h of admission were divided into two groups based on their antibiotic regimen: PT versus MD. Demographic data, duration of presenting symptoms, initial WBC, length of stay, and infectious complications were abstracted. Categorical data were compared using Chi square analysis; continuous variables were compared using Student's t-test when the data were normally distributed and the Mann-Whitney U test when the data were skewed.
There was no difference between the PT (n = 51) and MD (n = 43) groups with respect to age, duration of presenting symptoms, initial WBC, or length of hospital stay. However, patients in the MD group had a significantly higher overall complication rate than those in the PT group (14/43 vs. 4/51, p = 0.002). Antibiotic-related complications including surgical site infections, venous catheter-related infections, intra-abdominal abscesses, and drug reactions were also higher in the MD group (10/43 vs. 4/51, p = 0.04). The outpatient charges for each patient based on an average of seven days of home antibiotics were $2,460 for the PT group and $4,349 for the MD group.
Children with perforated appendicitis can be managed effectively with a single broad-spectrum antibiotic after appendectomy. Monotherapy is not only more efficacious than multi-drug therapy, but may be more cost effective. The use of monotherapy for children with perforated appendicitis after adequate source control should be considered the treatment of choice.