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Keywords:

  • Appendicitis;
  • maternal outcomes;
  • peritonitis;
  • postoperative complications;
  • pregnancy

Objective

To compare outcomes and management practices among pregnant and nonpregnant women with acute appendicitis.

Design

Population-based matched cohort study.

Setting

United States of America.

Sample

A total of 7114 women with appendicitis among 7 037 386 births.

Methods

Logistic regression analyses to calculate the odds ratio (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for variables and outcomes of interest.

Main outcome measures

Maternal morbidities associated with appendicitis; management practices for pregnant and age-matched nonpregnant women with appendicitis.

Results

There was an overall incidence of 101.1 cases of appendicitis per 100 000 births. Appendicitis was diagnosed in 35 570 nonpregnant women during the corresponding time frame. Peritonitis occurred in 20.3% of pregnant women with appendicitis, with an adjusted OR of 1.3 (95% CI 1.2–1.4) when compared with nonpregnant women with appendicitis. In pregnancy, there was an almost two-fold increase in sepsis and septic shock, transfusion, pneumonia, bowel obstruction, postoperative infection and length of stay >3 days. Whereas 5.8% of appendicitis cases among pregnant women were managed conservatively, they were associated with a considerably increased risk of shock, peritonitis and venous thromboembolism as compared to surgically managed cases.

Conclusions

Compared with nonpregnant women, pregnant women with acute appendicitis have higher rates of adverse outcomes. Conservative management should be avoided given the serious risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy.