Statewide impact of the COVID pandemic on pediatric appendicitis in California: A multicenter study

Christina M. Theodorou, Alana L. Beres, Michelle Nguyen, Shannon L. Castle, Claire Faltermeier, Shant Shekherdimian, Christine Tung, Daniel A. DeUgarte, Erin G. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in delays in presentation for other urgent medical conditions, including pediatric appendicitis. Several single-center studies have reported worse outcomes, but no state-level data is available. We aimed to determine the statewide effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the presentation and management of pediatric appendicitis patients. Materials and Methods: Patients < 18 years old with acute appendicitis at four tertiary pediatric hospitals in California between March 19, 2020 to September 19, 2020 (COVID-era) were compared to a pre-COVID cohort (March 19, 2019 to September 19, 2019). The primary outcome was the rate of perforated appendicitis. Secondary outcomes were symptom duration prior to presentation, and rates of non-operative management. Results: Rates of perforated appendicitis were unchanged (40.4% of 592 patients pre-COVID versus 42.1% of 606 patients COVID-era, P = 0.17). The median symptom duration was 2 days in both cohorts (P = 0.90). Computed tomography (CT) use rose from 39.8% pre-COVID to 49.4% during COVID (P = 0.002). Non-operative management increased during the pandemic (8.8% pre-COVID versus 16.2% COVID-era, P < 0.0001). Hospital length of stay (LOS) was longer (2 days pre-COVID versus 3 days during COVID, P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Pediatric perforated appendicitis rates did not rise during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic in California in this multicenter study, and there were no delays in presentation noted. There was a higher rate of CT scans, non-operative management, and longer hospital lengths of stay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-142
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis
  • COVID-19
  • Non-operative management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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