Study: Surgery Not Always Necessary for Appendicitis

The paper does not mention the curious history of appendicitis, whose incidence rose steeply in the Western world from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, and then declined -- for example, by a half in England between 1960 and 1980, and then yet further. The explanation for this is uncertain and contested.

When, a few decades ago, I thought of joining an expedition to the Antarctic as a doctor, one of the qualifications for the post was a willingness to have one’s appendix out in advance (I decided in the end that I didn’t like the cold enough to go). And I remember the story of a Soviet navy doctor aboard a nuclear submarine who was obliged to operate on himself for appendicitis by means of a system of mirrors. It all seems rather passé now: he could just have set up some intravenous antibiotics for himself.

If I were to get appendicitis now, would I want antibiotic treatment or operation? I should certainly advocate antibiotics for everyone else but for myself… even though I have overthrown my prejudice, I think I would still want an operation because that is what the correct treatment was in my younger days. Curious, is it not?