For anyone who has already had their appendix removed, we apologise that this news comes a little bit too late to save your precious organ.
But for the rest of us you’ll be happy to learn that in the future, appendicitis could be treated with a simple course of drugs rather than surgery.
A new study from the University of Southampton has found that antibiotics may be just as effective a treatment, as appendix removal, for acute non-complicated appendicitis – known as ‘appendix mass’ - in children.
For any adults disappointed that this might not apply to you, be comforted that the likelihood of getting appendicitis is highest when you are aged between 10 and 20-years-old, with around 9% of children in the UK having an appendix mass.
In fact, in Britain, appendicitis is the most common general surgical emergency in children.
Currently, this type of inflammation is treated first with antibiotics and later surgery to stop the problem reoccurring in later life.
According to a 2009 survey of paediatric surgeons in the UK, it was reported that 68% routinely recommend the removal of the appendix for all children after a course of antibiotics.
But due to the risk of serious post-surgery complications, such as a wound infection or hernia, the team wanted to see if the second step was strictly necessary in all cases.
Nigel Hall, Associate Professor of paediatric surgery, said: “[Surgery] is invasive and costly, not to mention extremely daunting for the child concerned and their family.”
And the team did find that in many cases, looking at 106 children, the removal could be avoided and instead replaced with active medical surveillance of the child in question.
The NHS issued a statement on how this new research will be incorporated into treatment guidelines in the UK, saying: “Guidelines for these sorts of issues are never set in stone. So it could be the case that this evidence will ‘add to the mix’ for evolving theories of best practice for treatment.”