The study isn't likely to end the debate, however.
One expert, Dr. Rodney J. Mason, associate professor of surgery at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine and author of an accompanying journal editorial, disagrees with the findings.
"There are a lot of biases in the study," Mason said. For one, the researchers gave patients the wrong antibiotic (amoxicillin), to which the most common germ associated with appendicitis -- E.coli -- has developed resistance rates to up to 66 percent in Europe, Mason said. His editorial also noted that amoxicillin-clavulanic acid "is not recommended" in the non-surgical treatment of appendicitis.
And even this study showed that two-thirds of the patients didn't need surgery, Mason added.
In their study, the authors conceded that antibiotic resistance to amoxillin might have affected the results, and suggested that third-generation cephalosporins, though not yet recommended, might be an alternative.
Regarding the latter suggestion, Mason commented: "That depends on the hospital and the sensitivity of that local hospital's organisms to different antibiotics. But a good combination to start out with would be ciprofloxacin combined with metronidazole, or levofloxacin combined with flagyl."
"Each community is going to have different sensitivities to the antibiotics, so a broad generalization should not be made," he added.
Most importantly, "patients with appendicitis need to be given the [idea] that antibiotic therapy is a perfectly acceptable option," Mason said. "There is a good chance that two-thirds of patients will not need an operation," he said.
Doctors don't usually tell patients that antibiotics may be all the treatment they need for appendicitis, Mason said.
There are downsides to the operation as well, he added. "There is always the risk of anesthetic problems, of bleeding, of infections and bow
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