February 26, 2024

Study: Postop emergency appendectomy complications more likely for Black children

Editor's Note

In a recent study, black children undergoing emergency appendectomy had a four times greater risk of postoperative complications than white children, independent of socioeconomic status or type of appendicitis. Anaesthesia, the journal of the Association of Anaesthetists, published the findings February 22.

Researchers note that this is the first study to report different complication rates in this type of surgery in children in UK. “Looking at studies from the USA, there is substantial evidence to suggest that black children have higher rates of complicated appendicitis, and it has been suggested that this may in part be related to delays in diagnoses,” they write.  “However, in this UK study, ethnicity remained a risk factor after adjusting for whether the child had simple or complicated appendicitis.”

Conducted between November 2019 and January 2022, the multi-center prospective observational cohort study analyzed data from 2,899 children from 80 hospitals. Postoperative complications affected 185 participants (7%), mostly related to the wound (75% of complications). Black children’s risk of poor outcomes was four times higher than white children, independent of socioeconomic status and the type of appendicitis found on histology.  

The authors note that the study took place across the COVID pandemic, which could have interrupted service delivery and provision differently in different areas of the UK and conceivably influenced the results. They add that black children in the UK present less frequently with appendicitis than white children, and that weight, height, and body mass index data were not included in the dataset.


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