Last updated on November 2018

The Comparison of Outcomes of Antibiotic Drugs and Appendectomy (CODA) Trial


Brief description of study

For the past 130 years, appendectomy has been the standard treatment for appendicitis. Recent studies from Europe have challenged the notion that surgery is the best option, showing that antibiotics alone can treat appendicitis without a need for appendectomy in as many as 3 out of 4 patients and without safety issues for up to one year of follow up. Despite these results, it remains to be determined if the antibiotic strategy is as good as an appendectomy for the outcomes that most patients care about. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-funded Comparison of Outcomes of Drugs and Appendectomy (CODA) trial will be the first American, and largest-ever randomized trial of the issue and its results should help surgeons and patients make more informed healthcare decisions.

Detailed Study Description

The Comparison of Outcomes of Antibiotic Drugs and Appendectomy (CODA) trial aims to test, if from a patient's perspective, the antibiotics strategy is "just as good as" surgery. The investigators believe that patients, clinicians, and the people who pay for healthcare (both patients and insurers) will find the antibiotics approach acceptable if 1) it results in high rates of treatment success, 2) does not increase complications, and 3) provides an equivalent or better patient experience. A large-scale non-inferiority trial is expected to result in a change in the management of one of the most common human illnesses. If non-inferiority is demonstrated (or superiority of the antibiotics approach identified), that finding will improve patient choice and should support a shift to the less invasive approach. If non-inferiority is not established, results may help to delineate the trade-offs between the two treatment approaches and inform decision-making.

The observation that patients with acute uncomplicated appendicitis (AUA) can be cured with antibiotics-alone has a scientific rationale. Traditionally, appendicitis was thought to result from a blockage of the appendix and that, if left untreated, inevitably led to a perforation. Contrary to this physiologic model, Carr demonstrated that obstruction of the appendix is an unlikely primary cause in the majority of patients and that most are caused by an enteric infection. A recent randomized trial found an increased rate of appendectomy with early use of computed tomography (CT) imaging and diagnostic laparoscopy, but case reports of appendicitis remission documented by serial CT all suggest that leaving the appendix in place does not inexorably lead to clinical compromise. A common concern of clinicians when considering treating AUA with antibiotics is that not removing the appendix may lead to perforation and complications from complicated appendicitis. Evidence suggests, however, that perforated appendicitis is a pre-hospital event and that non-perforated appendicitis is a "different" disease. This theory is supported by a general lack of relation between a delay in surgery of up to 24-36 hours and perforation rates. Most recently, Fusobacterium sp., a genus of enteric Gram-negative anaerobic bacteria, rather than an obstructive stone, was found to be correlated with the presence of appendicitis and the degree of inflammation. What remains to be determined is whether certain bacterial colonies or features of individual immune response are most associated with progression of appendicitis without appendectomy and whether successful outcomes for people undergoing antibiotics can be predicted based on the patient's characteristics.

An additional rationale for this study is to address limitations of prior trials. To avoid misclassification problems of other trials, all patients will undergo standard radiographic imaging including CT, ultrasound (US), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Patients with an appendicolith will be included in the trial but considered a unique subgroup and will be evaluated as part of a pre-specified analysis (potentially excluding them from future recruitment if an early analysis demonstrates futility related to the primary antibiotic approach not being successful). To reflect usual and emerging techniques in treatment, the study includes both types of appendectomy (open and laparoscopic) and a broad range of antibiotic strategies including the option for an "all outpatient" treatment schedule with once daily dosing of longer-acting agents. Patients in the antibiotics arm will be given a minimum of 24 hours of intravenous (IV) antibiotics (using any appropriate dosing schedule and based on the patient's ability to tolerate oral medication), followed by oral antibiotics for a total of 10 days of antibiotic treatment). Discharge from the hospital or emergency department (ED) or a change in treatment arms will be guided by clinical targets and reasons for change in treatment arms will be assessed. Patients will be followed for up to two years to assess for longer-term complications, eventual appendectomy (performed anywhere), quality of life (QoL), gastrointestinal symptoms, and decisional regret. To quantify selection bias and to promote generalizability, all patients approached for the study and those who refuse randomization will be characterized at baseline. A parallel cohort of patients who refuse randomization (250 who initiate the antibiotics strategy and 250 who select the appendectomy strategy) will be surveyed for two years.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02800785

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Maine Medical Center

Portland, ME United States
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Boston Medical Center

Boston, MA United States
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Henry Ford Health System

Detroit, MI United States
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Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

Torrance, CA United States
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Harborview Medical Center

Seattle, WA United States
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Recruitment Status: Open


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