Appendectomy (Appendicitis)


Anatomy of appendectomy (appendicitis)

Your appendix is a small organ that is located near the beginning of the large intestine in the lower right of your abdomen. It is similarly shaped like a finger.

Appendicitis is an infection of the appendix. If not treated the infection, may cause your appendix to rupture or burst allowing bacteria or stool to release into your abdominal cavity. To reduce the risk of rupture, a surgeon usually removes an infected appendix.

Appendicitis symptoms

You may have appendicitis if you experience

  • Pain in the upper or middle abdominal region that migrates to the right lower part of your abdomen
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • nausea and/or vomiting

If you experience these symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Only a doctor can diagnose if you have appendicitis or another illness that may share these symptoms. Your doctor may order radiological tests, laboratory tests and perform several examinations to assist in diagnosing your problem.

Appendectomy procedure for appendicitis

Because acute appendicitis may cause a serious infection, appendicitis is usually treated with an urgent surgery, known as appendectomy. However, if you have developed an abscess, your surgeon may treat you with antibiotics and schedule your surgery electively.

Your appendectomy may be performed either laparoscopic or via the traditional open surgery method. It may be necessary to convert a laparoscopic procedure to an open method during the procedure if conditions warrant. Prior to surgery, your surgeon will discuss with you your options so you can decide on the best course of treatment.

Appendectomy is conducted as follows:

  • The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so that the patient is asleep during the procedure and feels no pain.
  • For laparoscopic surgery, a laparoscope is connected to a special TV monitor. This gives the surgeon a magnified view of the appendix.
  • If your appendix ruptures causing infection to spread, the surgeon will wash out your abdomen. A small drainage tube may be inserted into your abdomen to help drain out any pus or infection. This tube is removed when the drainage stops.
  • After the appendix is removed, usually the incisions are closed.

Preparing for appendectomy

Prior to surgery, your surgeon will review with the risks and benefits of the operation which may include but are not limited to:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots in the legs that may travel to the lungs
  • Breathing problems
  • Damage to nearby organs in the body
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Infection or bleeding
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Reactions to medicines
  • Wound that breaks open or bulging tissue through the incision (incisional hernia)
  • Need for blood transfusions
  • If pregnant, premature labor
  • Death

Smokers are advised to stop smoking as it may increase the risk of complications associated with surgical intervention and also contributes to long-term health problems such as, risk of cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease and neurologic disease.

After appendectomy

  • Typically, recovery for most patients following appendectomy is quick.
  • You may leave the hospital 1-3 days after your surgery. Your stay may be longer if you had a ruptured appendix.
  • You may go back to work/school when you feel well enough. It is recommended that you discuss the timing with your surgeon.