Background: Despite the frequency of acute appendicitis in children, there is no evidence-based consensus surrounding the urgency of the operation if a diagnosis is made after regular business hours. Although a modest delay in time to operation does not increase disease severity, postponing cases to the next calendar day may be associated with higher resource utilization. We aimed to evaluate the trend of delaying appendectomies to the next calendar day and its associated outcomes. Methods: We queried the Pediatric Health Information System to analyze appendectomy patients younger than 18 y of age from 2010 to 2018. Same-day appendectomy and next-day appendectomy cohorts were created using admission hour and operative day. Healthcare cost, length of stay, surgical complications, and 30-day readmission rates were collected. Bivariate analyses and multivariable regressions were used to evaluate groups stratified by time of presentation. Results: During the study period, 113,662 appendectomies were performed, comprising 88,715 (78.1%) same-day appendectomies and 24,947 (21.9%) next-day appendectomies. A higher proportion of same-day appendectomies (80.5%) were performed during hours 12:00AM to 5:00PM and 19.5% were performed during hours 6:00PM to 11:00PM. The trend of next-day appendectomies increased during the study period from 13.9% to 20.2%. This was primarily evident in the 6:00PM to 11:00PM period. The 5:00PM cutoff was most predictive of a next-day appendectomy. Next-day appendectomies had similar rates of surgical complications; however, they were associated with higher costs, longer lengths of stay, and higher readmission rates. Conclusion: As the understanding of appendicitis urgency has changed, a more tempered approach of delivering surgical care has trended. Although short delays appear safe, postponement to the next calendar day is associated with higher resource utilization.
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