n South African Journal of Surgery - Acute appendicitis in South Africa : a systematic review : general surgery

Volume 53, Issue 3_4
  • ISSN : 0038-2361
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5151



Acute appendicitis is one of the most common surgical emergencies in the West. A large body of research is investigating the risk factors for disease and perforation. As South Africa has a social environment, health system structure, and population demography unique from developed nations, the findings may not be generalisable to this setting. A systematic review has not been performed for appendicitis research in South Africa. The objective of this review was to systematically examine the literature on appendicitis in South Africa.

Published articles discussing appendicitis in South Africa up to March 2014 were identified using MEDLINE and EBMReviews. Research themes were analysed in the literature. Perforation rates, mortality, negative appendicectomy rates and gender differences were analysed from audits of patients undergoing appendicectomy for acute appendicitis.
Ten audits were included in the quantitative analysis. Some were excluded in the subgroup analyses. Negative appendicectomies occurred at a rate of 17% (580/3 354). Women were more likely to have a negative appendicectomy than men (28% vs. 9%, < 0.01). The perforation rate for appendicectomy patients was 36% (970/2 688), and mortality rate was 1% (36/2 946). Research efforts focused on investigating differential incidence and outcomes between racial groups within the country.
Appendicitis trends in South Africa are consistent with those in developing regions. However, there is lack of research from the private sector. Further research is needed to investigate specific factors which delay care, outcomes and cost analyses for laparoscopic surgery, and the system strengthening of surgical services at district hospitals.

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