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Three Centuries of Appendicectomy

Herrod, Philip J. J.; Kwok, Alex T.; Lobo, Dileep N.

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Philip J. J. Herrod

Alex T. Kwok

Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery


Save for the contribution of Charles McBurney, who described his eponymous point and the appendicectomy incision, the history of appendicectomy is largely unknown among the medical profession. This review traces the history from the first anatomical depiction of the appendix to the development of open appendicectomy and the recent minimally invasive and non-operative methods.

Historical articles, monographs and books containing anatomical descriptions of the vermiform appendix and reports of appendicitis and its surgical treatment were retrieved after searching the PubMed, Google Scholar and Embase databases from their inception to 31 March 2022.

The first inadvertent appendicectomy was performed during an operation for a groin hernia by Cookesley in 1731, and Mestivier was the first to drain a right iliac fossa abscess, due to appendicitis, in 1757. Krönlein performed the first appendicectomy for acute appendicitis in 1884 but his patient died. The first successful appendicectomy for acute appendicitis leading to patient survival was by Morton in 1887. In 1976, Wirschafter and Kaufman performed an inadvertent colonoscopic appendicectomy and, in 1980, Semm carried out the first laparoscopic appendicectomy. The first appendicectomy via a natural orifice (transgastric) appendicectomy was by Rao and Reddy in 2004.

This historical review charts the development of surgical knowledge concerning the management of appendicitis, from the first anatomical drawings of the appendix and descriptions of appendicitis to the development of surgical and conservative treatments up to the present day. It also corrects some inaccuracies of attribution in previous historical reviews.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 29, 2022
Publication Date 2023-04
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2023
Journal World Journal of Surgery
Print ISSN 0364-2313
Electronic ISSN 1432-2323
Publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Pages 928-936
Keywords Surgery
Public URL
Publisher URL


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