Background: The diagnosis of acute appendicitis remains difficult and therefore 15–30% of the removed appendices appear to be normal. The aim of this study was to investigate morbidity, mortality and costs of removing a normal appendix in patients with suspected appendicitis. Patients and Methods: Retrospective study of patients who underwent a negative appendectomy for suspected appendicitis in the period 1991–1999 with a median follow-up of 4.4 years. Patients who underwent an elective appendectomy or appendectomy for other reasons were excluded. Results: In 285 patients (70% women, 30% men) a normal appendix was removed. In 192 (67%) patients a muscle-splitting incision was performed, in 6 (2%) a median laparotomy, and in 51 (18%) the normal appendix was removed by laparoscopy. In 36 patients (13%) a diagnostic laparoscopy was converted to a muscle-splitting incision. Complications occurred in 16 (6%) patients, in 5 (2%) a re-operation was needed. The mean hospital stay was 4.4 (SE 2.8) days, in case of complications 7.4 (SE 4.2) days. The mean extra hospital costs of a negative appendectomy were EUR 2,712. Conclusion: The removal of a normal appendix has considerable complications and costs. In an attempt to prevent these costs, extra diagnostic tools should be considered. Expensive diagnostic tools such as diagnostic laparoscopy should be used selectively in order not to further increase costs.

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