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OBJECTIVE: Complicated appendicitis is associated with a higher risk of postoperative complications, including adhesive bowel obstruction. The aim of this meta-analysis is to investigate the difference in rates of postoperative bowel obstruction in paediatric patients with complicated versus simple appendicitis and whether this is influenced by the surgical approach. METHODS: A systematic literature search following PRISMA guidelines was conducted using MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane Library for studies that analysed incidence of adhesive bowel obstruction in paediatric patients after appendicectomy. Studies from 1998 to 2022 were included in analysis. The study protocol was registered on PROSPERO (ID CRD42022309769). RESULTS: Pooled analysis of 6 studies with low risk of bias and adequate follow up periods, considering 58,962 cases of appendicectomy, revealed complex appendicitis was associated with a near two-fold increase in incidence of SBO (pooled odds ratio 2.02 (95% CI 1.35-2.69)). Interestingly, a similar pooled analysis of 10 studies, considering 62,433 cases of appendicectomy, revealed no significant difference between open and laparoscopic management of complex appendicitis (pooled odds ratio 0.93 (95% CI 0.24 to 1.62)). CONCLUSION: Complex appendicitis is associated with a two-fold increase in the rates of adhesive bowel obstruction. Whilst there are cosmetic advantages of a laparoscopic approach, surgical expertise should be favoured in decision making relating to surgical approach (laparoscopic versus open) as the evidence for a laparoscopic approach reducing risks of adhesive bowel obstruction is not convincing. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatr Surg

Publication Date



Adhesive, Appendicitis, Bowel, Complex, Obstruction, Simple