INTRODUCTION: Based on epidemiological, immunological and pathology data, the idea that appendicitis is not necessarily a progressive disease is gaining ground. Two types are distinguished: simple and complicated appendicitis. Non-operative treatment (NOT) of children with simple appendicitis has been investigated in several small studies. So far, it is deemed safe. However, its effectiveness and effect on quality of life (QoL) have yet to be established in an adequately powered randomised trial. In this article, we provide the study protocol for the APAC (Antibiotics versus Primary Appendectomy in Children) trial.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This multicentre, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial randomises children aged 7-17 years with imaging-confirmed simple appendicitis between appendectomy and NOT. Patients are recruited in 15 hospitals. The intended sample size, based on the primary outcome, rate of complications and a non-inferiority margin of 5%, is 334 patients.NOT consists of intravenous antibiotics for 48-72 hours, daily blood tests and ultrasound follow-up. If the patient meets the predefined discharge criteria, antibiotic treatment is continued orally at home. Primary outcome is the rate of complications at 1-year follow-up. An independent adjudication committee will assess all complications and their relation to the allocated treatment. Secondary outcomes include, but are not limited to, delayed appendectomies, QoL, pain and (in)direct costs.The primary outcome will be analysed both according to the intention-to-treat principle and the per-protocol principle, and is presented with a one-sided 97.5% CI. We will use multiple logistic and linear regression for binary and continuous outcomes, respectively, to adjust for stratification factors.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The protocol has been approved by the Medical Ethics Review Committee of the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam. Data monitoring is performed by an independent institute and a Data Safety Monitoring Board has been assigned. Results will be presented in peer-reviewed academic journals and at (international) conferences.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02848820; NTR5977; Pre-results.