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Less-invasive appendix surgery shines in new study


5 Star


Less-invasive appendix surgery shines in new study

Our Review Summary

It’s also noteworthy that this reporter’s work consistently scores high in our reviews.  The commitment to excellence is evident.

This is a clear, concise explanation of a journal article’s findings.


Why This Matters

Elective appendectomy is a common surgical procedure that is now routinely performed using minimally invasive techniques. The question of whether laparoscopic appendectomy is safe and cost effective for a ruptured appendix has been an unresolved question. This new study adds some additional insight albeit with several important provisos.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


Nice job on this.  The story states:

“For uncomplicated cases of appendicitis, in which the appendix is still intact, the tabs for the two surgeries came out about the same, at just over $7,800. …When the appendix had burst, however, the open surgery racked up a considerably higher bill. On average, it cost $17,594, compared to $12,125 for the laparoscopic surgery.”


Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


As already noted, the story did a good job comparing death rate, readmission rate and hospital stays between the two procedures.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


Good job comparing death rate, readmission rate and hospital stays between the two procedures.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story quotes the lead researcher’s own caveats about limitations of the research: “he acknowledged that the study has major limitations. First, it looks only at academic medical centers. And second, it’s not a randomized controlled trial, which means the patients being compared could be different in important ways, explaining at least part of the outcomes of the two types of surgery.Indeed, those who had laparoscopy were younger and usually had less severe disease, which could have biased the results in favor of the minimally invasive procedure.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering at play here.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

There was no independent perspective offered.  So, even though the lead researcher offered his own caveats about the limitations of the research, we always wish for an independent expert’s voice to be heard in such stories.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The focus of the story was the comparison between two surgical approaches.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The widespread use of laparascopic appendectomy was clear in the story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story offered this helpful context:

“…experiments comparing the two kinds of procedure have yielded mixed outcomes, and some experts remain unconvinced that laparoscopy is worth its higher upfront cost.The new study, in the Annals of Surgery, doesn’t settle that question. But it does suggest that laparoscopy could actually save thousands of dollars for some patients, when all costs — including physician fees, hospital fees and readmissions — are considered.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that the story didn’t rely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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