Appendectomy, Purpose, Risk and Recovery
An appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix. It’s a common emergency surgery that’s performed to treat appendicitis, an inflammatory condition of the appendix.
The appendix is a small, tube-shaped pouch attached to your large intestine. It’s located in the lower right side of your abdomen. The exact purpose of the appendix isn’t known. However, it’s believed that it may help us recover from diarrhea, inflammation, and infections of the small and large intestines. These may sound like important functions, but the body can still function properly without an appendix.
When the appendix becomes inflamed and swollen, bacteria can quickly multiply inside the organ and lead to the formation of pus. This buildup of bacteria and pus can cause pain around the belly button that spreads to the lower right section of the abdomen. Walking or coughing can make the pain worse. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It’s important to seek treatment right away if you’re having symptoms of appendicitis. When the condition goes untreated, the appendix can burst (perforated appendix) and release bacteria and other harmful substances into the abdominal cavity. This can be life-threatening, and will lead to a longer hospital stay.
Appendectomy is the standard treatment for appendicitis. It’s crucial to remove the appendix right away, before the appendix can rupture. Once an appendectomy is performed, most people recover quickly and without complications.
Appendectomy may be performed laparoscopically (as minimally invasive surgery) or as an open operation. Over the 2010s, surgical practice has increasingly moved towards routinely offering laparoscopic appendicectomy. Laparoscopy is often used if the diagnosis is in doubt, or in order to leave a less visible surgical scar. Recovery may be slightly faster after laparoscopic surgery, although the laparoscopic procedure itself is more expensive and resource-intensive than open surgery and generally takes longer. Advanced pelvic sepsis occasionally requires a lower midline laparotomy.
Complicated (perforated) appendicitis should undergo prompt surgical intervention. There has been significant recent trial evidence that uncomplicated appendicitis can be treated with either antibiotics or appendicectomy. After appendicectomy the main difference in treatment is the length of time the antibiotics are administered. For uncomplicated appendicitis, antibiotics should be continued up to 24 hours post-operatively. For complicated appendicitis, antibiotics should be continued for anywhere between 3 and 7 days. An interval appendectomy is generally performed 6–8 weeks after conservative management with antibiotics for special cases, such as perforated appendicitis. Delay of appendectomy 24 hours after admission for symptoms of appendicitis has not shown to increase risk of perforation or other complications.
An appendectomy is done for appendicitis. The condition can be hard to diagnose, especially in children, older people, and women of childbearing age. An appendectomy is often done to remove the appendix when an infection has made it inflamed and swollen. This condition is known as appendicitis. The infection may occur when the opening of the appendix becomes clogged with bacteria and stool. This causes your appendix to become swollen and inflamed.
The easiest and quickest way to treat appendicitis is to remove the appendix (Appendectomy). Your appendix could burst if appendicitis isn’t treated immediately and effectively. If the appendix ruptures, the bacteria and fecal particles within the organ can spread into your abdomen. This may lead to a serious infection called peritonitis. You can also develop an abscess if your appendix ruptures. Both are life-threatening situations that require immediate surgery.
Symptoms of appendicitis include:
- Stomach pain that starts suddenly near the belly button and spreads to the lower right side of the abdomen
- Abdominal swelling
- Rigid abdominal muscles
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Although pain from appendicitis typically occurs in the lower right side of the abdomen, pregnant women may have pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. This is because the appendix is higher during pregnancy.
Go to the emergency room immediately if you believe you have appendicitis. An appendectomy needs to be performed right away to prevent complications. Talk with your doctor or health care provider to make sure you fully understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, or try using video consultation from leading international medical experts from UK, USA and Europe. Docspert Health enables you to have an online video consultation with the international expert to discuss your condition and their medical advice, with the option of having a medical interpreter. You can book a video consultation here
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If you have symptoms of appendicitis, seek medical help right away. Docspert Health enables you to travel abroad to consult the expert or to receive your treatment or operation
. DO NOT use heating pads, enemas, laxatives, or other home treatments to try to relieve symptoms.
Your health care provider will examine your abdomen and rectum. Other tests may be done:
Blood tests, including a white blood cell count (WBC), may be done to check for infection.
When the diagnosis is not clear, the provider may order a CT scan or ultrasound to make sure the appendix is the cause of the problem.
There are no actual tests to confirm that you have appendicitis. Other illnesses can cause the same or similar symptoms.
The goal is to remove an infected appendix before it breaks open (ruptures). After reviewing your symptoms and the results of the physical exam and medical tests, your surgeon will decide whether you need surgery.
An appendectomy is a fairly simple and common procedure. However, there are some risks associated with the surgery, including:
- Injury to nearby organs
- Blocked bowels
It’s important to note that the risks of an appendectomy are much less severe than the risks associated with untreated appendicitis. An appendectomy needs to be done immediately to prevent abscesses and peritonitis from developing.
Risks of anesthesia and appendectomy surgery in general include:
Risks of an appendectomy after a ruptured appendix include:
- Reactions to medicines
- Problems breathing
- Bleeding, blood clots, or infection
- Buildup of pus (abscess), which may need draining and antibiotics
- Infection of the incision
- Recovery After Appendectomy:
Most people leave the hospital in 1 to 2 days after appendectomy. You can go back to your normal activities within 2 to 4 weeks after leaving the hospital.
If you had laparoscopic appendectomy, you will likely recover quickly. Recovery from appendectomy is slower and more complicated if your appendix has broken open or an abscess has formed.
Living without an appendix causes no known health problems.
When the appendectomy is over, you’ll be observed for several hours before you’re released from the hospital. Your vital signs, such your breathing and heart rate, will be monitored closely. Hospital staff will also check for any adverse reactions to the anesthesia or the procedure.
- The timing of your release will depend on:
- Your overall physical condition
- The type of appendectomy performed
- Your body’s reaction to the surgery
In some cases, you may have to remain in the hospital overnight.
You may be able to go home the same day as the appendectomy if your appendicitis wasn’t severe. A family member or friend will need to drive you home if you received general anesthesia. The effects of general anesthesia usually take several hours to wear off, so it can be unsafe to drive after the procedure.
In the days following the appendectomy, you may feel moderate pain in the areas where appendectomy incisions were made. Any pain or discomfort resulting from appendectomy should improve within a few days. Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve the pain after appendectomy. They might also prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection after appendectomy. You can further reduce your risk for infection by keeping the appendectomy incisions clean. You should also watch for signs of infection, which include:
- Redness and swelling around the appendectomy incision
- Fever above 101°F
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than two days
Although there’s a small risk of infection after appendectomy, most people recover from appendicitis and an appendectomy with little difficulty. Full recovery from an appendectomy takes about four to six weeks. During this time, your doctor will probably recommend that you limit physical activity so your body can heal from appendectomy. You’ll need to attend a follow-up appointment with your doctor within two to three weeks after the appendectomy.
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