Appendectomy, the surgical removal of the appendix, is performed primarily for acute appendicitis. Patients who undergo appendectomy for complicated appendicitis, defined as gangrenous or perforated appendicitis, are more likely to suffer from postoperative complications. The routine use of abdominal drainage to reduce postoperative complications after appendectomy for complicated appendicitis is controversial.
This is an update of the review first published in 2015.
To assess the safety and efficacy of abdominal drainage to prevent intra-peritoneal abscess after open appendectomy for complicated appendicitis.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (the Cochrane Library, 2017, Issue 6), Ovid MEDLINE (1946 to 30 June 2017), Ovid Embase (1974 to 30 June 2017), Science Citation Index Expanded (1900 to 30 June 2017), World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (30 June 2017), ClinicalTrials.gov (30 June 2017) and Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM) (1978 to 30 June 2017).
We included all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared abdominal drainage and no drainage in people undergoing emergency open appendectomy for complicated appendicitis.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors identified the trials for inclusion, collected the data, and assessed the risk of bias independently. We performed the meta-analyses using Review Manager 5. We calculated the risk ratio (RR) for dichotomous outcomes (or a Peto odds ratio for very rare outcomes), and the mean difference (MD) for continuous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals (CI). We used GRADE to rate the quality of evidence.
We included six RCTs (521 participants), comparing abdominal drainage and no drainage in patients undergoing emergency open appendectomy for complicated appendicitis. The studies were conducted in North America, Asia and Africa. The majority of the participants had perforated appendicitis with local or general peritonitis. All participants received antibiotic regimens after open appendectomy. None of the trials was at low risk of bias.
There was insufficient evidence to determine the effects of abdominal drainage and no drainage on intra-peritoneal abscess at 14 days (RR 1.23, 95% CI 0.47 to 3.21; 5 RCTs; 453 participants; very low-quality evidence) or for wound infection at 14 days (RR 2.01, 95% CI 0.88 to 4.56; 5 RCTs; 478 participants; very low-quality evidence). The increased risk of 30-day overall complication rate (morbidity) in the drainage group was rated as very low-quality evidence (RR 6.67, 95% CI 2.13 to 20.87; 1 RCT; 90 participants). There were seven deaths in the drainage group (N = 183) compared to one in the no drainage group (N = 180), equating to an increase in the risk of 30-day mortality from 0.6% to 2.7% (Peto odds ratio (OR) 4.88, 95% CI 1.18 to 20.09; 4 RCTs; 363 participants; moderate-quality evidence). There is 'very low-quality' evidence that drainage increases hospital stay compared to the no drainage group by 2.17 days (95% CI 1.76 to 2.58; 3 RCTs; 298 participants).
Other outlined outcomes, hospital costs, pain, and quality of life, were not reported in any of the included studies.
The quality of the current evidence is very low. The effect of abdominal drainage on the prevention of intra-peritoneal abscess or wound infection after open appendectomy is uncertain for patients with complicated appendicitis. The increased rates for overall complication rate and hospital stay for the drainage group compared to no drainage group is also subject to great uncertainty. Thus, there is no evidence for any clinical improvement by using abdominal drainage in patients undergoing open appendectomy for complicated appendicitis. The increased risk of mortality with drainage comes from eight deaths observed in just under 400 people recruited to the studies. Larger studies are needed to determine the effects of drainage on morbidity and mortality outcomes more reliably.