Accurate diagnosis and optimal management of acute appendicitis, despite being the most common surgical emergency encountered in emergency departments, is often delayed in pediatric patients due to nonspecific symptoms and communication barriers, often leading to more complicated cases. The aim of this study is to investigate the diagnostic significance of common laboratory markers.
A total of 421 patients aged 15 and younger underwent surgical treatment for acute appendicitis. We conducted a retrospective analysis for white blood cell (WBC), C-reactive protein (CRP) and bilirubin. All patients were classified into simple or complicated appendicitis groups based on postoperative histology.
The mean age of the patients in the complicated appendicitis group was younger than that in the simple group (P = 0.005). WBC, CRP and bilirubin levels were significantly higher in the complicated appendicitis group (P < 0.001, <0.001, 0.002). The relative risk for complicated appendicitis was calculated using age, WBC, CRP and bilirubin. Elevated CRP levels were associated with the highest risk for complicated appendicitis (hazard ratio [HR], 2.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.38 to 4.65) followed by WBC (HR, 2.42; 95% CI, 1.07 to 5.46) and bilirubin (HR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.09 to 3.82). The most sensitive markers for diagnosing complicated appendicitis were WBC (95.2%) and CRP (86.3%). Bilirubin levels showed the highest specificity at 74.8%.
The risk of complicated appendicitis was significantly higher in patients younger than 10 years old. Preoperative WBC, CRP and bilirubin have clinical value in diagnosing complicated appendicitis with a HR of 2.0 to 2.5. Our results suggest that the utilization of WBC, CRP, and bilirubin can assist in the diagnosis of complicated appendicitis in pediatric patients, allowing prompt diagnosis and optimal management.