Appendectomy (Appendicitis)

Anatomy of appendectomy (appendicitis)

Your appendix is a tiny sac that extrudes off the first part of your large intestine. It is shaped like a finger and is generally located in the lower right of your abdomen.

Sometimes the appendix can become infected with a condition known as appendicitis, which if not treated may leak an infection into your abdominal area and cause death. To reduce the risk, a surgeon usually removes an infected appendix.

Appendicitis symptoms

You may have appendicitis if you experience

  • abdominal pain, especially in the lower right of your abdomen
  • low appetite
  • fever
  • vomiting and/or nausea

If you experience these symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately because only a doctor can diagnose if you have appendicitis or another illness that may share these symptoms, based on your health, medical history, a physical exam of your abdomen and rectum, and blood tests to see if you have an infection.

Because untreated appendicitis can cause death, you should not delay in seeking emergency medical help. Do not try to treat yourself using pain relievers, laxatives, heating pads, or other home treatments.

Appendectomy procedure for appendicitis

Because acute appendicitis is life threatening, appendicitis is usually treated with an emergency surgery, known as appendectomy, to remove your infected appendix.

You are put under general anesthesia so you sleep and do not feel pain during surgery.

Depending on your condition and other factors, the surgeon may perform appendectomy using conventional open surgery to make a small cut in your abdomen to remove the infected appendix.

Your surgeon may also be trained and able to use a less invasive surgical method -- laparoscopic appendectomy. Small incisions are made and a TV camera inserted into your body so your surgeon can see and remove your appendix.

If your appendix ruptures causing infection to spread, the surgeon will wash out your abdomen. To help drain out any pus or infection, a small drainage tube may be left in your abdomen.

After appendectomy

  • Living without an appendix is not known to have any effect on your lifestyle or health.
  • A quick recovery is typical for most patients following appendectomy.
  • You may leave the hospital 1-3 days after your surgery.
  • In 1 to 3 weeks after your appendectomy, you may resume normal activities.
  • If your appendix ruptured or your abdomen was infected, then slower recovery times are typical.
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