HOUSTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Few studies have looked at the risk of irreversible antithrombotic therapy in patients who need emergent or urgent laparoscopic appendectomy, but a new study showed that the operation poses no significantly greater risk for such patients, compared with people who are not on antithrombotics.

The study’s findings do not apply to all patients on anticoagulation, specifically those on new novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs), said Christopher Pearcy, MD, of Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

“We have sufficient data to show that patients on Plavix [clopidogrel] and aspirin are not at any greater risk,” Dr. Pearcy said. “We would’ve liked to have had more data on NOACs, but unfortunately that group only made up 4% of our total cohort.”

NOAC agents include dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban.

Appendicitis is the third most common indication for abdominal surgery in the elderly, Dr. Pearcy noted, and their mortality rates are eight times greater than those of younger patients. However, these patients often proceed to operation with minimal workup, “given that laparoscopic appendectomy is a relatively benign procedure,” he said at the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

The retrospective study evaluated two groups of 195 patients who had urgent or emergent laparoscopic appendectomy at three centers from 2010 to 2014. One group was on irreversible antithrombotic therapy, and the other served as controls.

The primary outcomes were blood loss, transfusion requirement, and mortality. Secondary outcomes were duration of operation, length of hospital stay, rates of infections, complications, and 30-day readmissions.

“Compared with controls, we didn’t find any significant difference in any outcome whatsoever after laparoscopic appendectomy in patients on prehospital antithrombotic therapy,” Dr. Pearcy said.

Specifically, average estimated blood loss was 18 cc in controls vs. 22 cc in patients on antithrombotics, and mortality was 0% in the former vs. 1% in the latter. Patients on antithrombotics had a lower rate of complications: 3% vs. 11%.

Dr. Pearcy discussed a case of a 70-year-old man with acute appendicitis. He had a history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, and was taking clopidogrel and aspirin daily.

“Is it safe to proceed with surgery given this patient’s irreversible antithrombotic therapy? We would say yes,” he said.

Dr. Pearcy reported having no financial disclosures.