Appendicitis is a significant economic and healthcare burden in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. We aimed to determine whether urban and rural patient status would affect outcomes in appendicitis in a combined population regardless of country of economic status. We hypothesize that patients from rural areas and both high- and low-middle-income countries would have disproportionate outcomes and duration of symptoms compared to their urban counterparts.
Adults (≥18 years) with appendicitis during 2010–2016 in South Africa and USA were reviewed using multi-institutional data. Baseline demographic, operative details, durations of stay, and complications (Clavien–Dindo index) were collected. AAST grades were assigned by two independent reviewers based on operative findings. Summary, univariate, and multivariable analyses of rural and urban patients in both countries were performed.
There were 2602 patients with a median interquartile range [IQR] of 26 [18–40] years; 45% were female. Initial management included McBurney incisions (n = 458, 18%), laparotomy (n = 915, 35%), laparoscopic appendectomy (n = 1185, 45%), and laparoscopy converted to laparotomy (n = 44, 2%). Comparing rural versus urban patient status, there were increased overall median [IQR] AAST grades (3 [1–5] vs. 2 [1–3], p = 0.001), prehospital duration of symptoms (2 [1–5] vs. 2 [1–3], p = 0.001), complications (44.3 vs. 23%, p = 0.001), and need for temporary abdominal closure (20.3 vs. 6.9%, p = 0.001).
Despite socioeconomic status and country of origin, patients from more rural environments demonstrate poorer outcomes notwithstanding significant differences in overall disease severity. The AAST grading system may serve a potential benchmark to recognize areas with disparate disease burdens. This information could be used for strategic improvements for surgeon placement and availability.