OBJECTIVES: Little is known about the relationship between prior treatment with antibiotics and delay of diagnosis and treatment in pediatric acute appendicitis (AA). We have defined a situation requiring more than 48 hours from the onset of symptoms to surgery in pediatric AA as "therapeutic delay." The aim of this study was to investigate the risk factors contributing to therapeutic delay in pediatric AA. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart review of AA children operated on between 2003 and 2008 at tertiary-care pediatric and perinatal hospitals. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were analyzed to determine independent risk factors of therapeutic delay in pediatric AA. RESULTS: The duration between the onset of symptoms and surgery was more than 48 hours (therapeutic delay) in 50 patients (25%, group A) and 48 hours or less in 151 patients (75%, group B). The patients in group A had a significantly higher frequency of diarrhea (48% vs 12%; P < 0.0001). The percentages of children who had previously received antibiotics were more frequent in group A (46% vs 8%; P < 0.0001). The median C-reactive protein levels (72 vs 7 mg/L; P < 0.0001) and frequency of perforation (60% vs 13%; P < 0.0001) were statistically significantly higher in group A. A multivariate analysis demonstrated that the independent risk factors of therapeutic delay were history of receiving antibiotics (odds ratio [OR], 5.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3-15.5), diarrhea (OR, 5.2; 95% CI, 2.1-13.1), and elevated C-reactive protein levels (OR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.9-10.8). CONCLUSIONS: Prior treatment with antibiotics was an independent risk factor for therapeutic delay in pediatric AA.
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