Acute appendicitis is the most common surgical emergency and becomes serious when it perforates. Perforation is more frequent in the elderly patients. The aim of this study was to identify the risk factors of perforation in elderly patients who presented with acute appendicitis.
The medical records of 214 patients over the age of 60 years who had a pathologically confirmed diagnosis of acute appendicitis over a period of 10 years (2003-2013) were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were grouped into those with perforated and those with nonperforated appendicitis. Comparison was made between both groups in regard to demography, clinical presentation, and time delay to surgery, diagnosis, hospital stay and postoperative complications. Clinical assessment, Ultrasonography and Computerized tomography, in that order, were used for diagnosis. The incidence of perforation was also compared with a previous report from the same region 10 years earlier.
During the study period, a total of 214 patients over the age of 60 years had acute appendicitis, 103 males and 111 females. Appendix was found perforated in 87 (41%) patients, 46 (53%) males and 41 (47%) females. Of all patients, 31% were diagnosed by clinical assessment alone, 40% needed US and 29% CT scan. Of all the risk factors studied, the patient’s pre-hospital time delay was the most important risk factor for perforation. Perforation rate was not dependent on the presence of comorbid diseases or in-hospital time delay. Post operative complications occurred in 44 (21%) patients and they were three times more common in the perforated group, 33 (75%) patients in the perforated and 11 (25%) in the nonperforated group. There were 6 deaths (3%), 4 in the perforated and 2 in the nonperforated group.
Acute appendicitis in elderly patients is a serious disease that requires early diagnosis and treatment. Appendiceal Perforation increases both mortality and morbidity. All elderly patients presented to the hospital with abdominal pain should be admitted and investigated. The early use of CT scan can cut short the way to the appropriate treatment.