Antibiotics will get you by but are probably not as effective as surgery. From a recent study:
Design, Setting, and Participants The Appendicitis Acuta (APPAC) multicenter, open-label, noninferiority randomized clinical trial was conducted from November 2009 until June 2012 in Finland. The trial enrolled 530 patients aged 18 to 60 years with uncomplicated acute appendicitis confirmed by a CT scan. Patients were randomly assigned to early appendectomy or antibiotic treatment with a 1-year follow-up period.
Interventions Patients randomized to antibiotic therapy received intravenous ertapenem (1 g/d) for 3 days followed by 7 days of oral levofloxacin (500 mg once daily) and metronidazole (500 mg 3 times per day). Patients randomized to the surgical treatment group were assigned to undergo standard open appendectomy.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary end point for the surgical intervention was the successful completion of an appendectomy. The primary end point for antibiotic-treated patients was discharge from the hospital without the need for surgery and no recurrent appendicitis during a 1-year follow-up period.
Results There were 273 patients in the surgical group and 257 in the antibiotic group. Of 273 patients in the surgical group, all but 1 underwent successful appendectomy, resulting in a success rate of 99.6% (95% CI, 98.0% to 100.0%). In the antibiotic group, 70 patients (27.3%; 95% CI, 22.0% to 33.2%) underwent appendectomy within 1 year of initial presentation for appendicitis. Of the 256 patients available for follow-up in the antibiotic group, 186 (72.7%; 95% CI, 66.8% to 78.0%) did not require surgery. The intention-to-treat analysis yielded a difference in treatment efficacy between groups of −27.0% (95% CI, −31.6% to ∞) (P = .89). Given the prespecified noninferiority margin of 24%, we were unable to demonstrate noninferiority of antibiotic treatment relative to surgery. Of the 70 patients randomized to antibiotic treatment who subsequently underwent appendectomy, 58 (82.9%; 95% CI, 72.0% to 90.8%) had uncomplicated appendicitis, 7 (10.0%; 95% CI, 4.1% to 19.5%) had complicated acute appendicitis, and 5 (7.1%; 95% CI, 2.4% to 15.9%) did not have appendicitis but received appendectomy for suspected recurrence. There were no intra-abdominal abscesses or other major complications associated with delayed appendectomy in patients randomized to antibiotic treatment.
Conclusions and Relevance Among patients with CT-proven, uncomplicated appendicitis, antibiotic treatment did not meet the prespecified criterion for noninferiority compared with appendectomy. Most patients randomized to antibiotic treatment for uncomplicated appendicitis did not require appendectomy during the 1-year follow-up period, and those who required appendectomy did not experience significant complications.