An appendectomy is the removal of the appendix. The appendix is a pouch that is attached to the large intestine.
An appendectomy is often done as an emergency operation to treat appendicitis. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. It can be caused by an infection or obstruction.
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Complications are rare but no procedure is completely free of risk. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some risk factors that make complications more likely include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Antibiotics will be started right away. Appendicitis is an emergency condition. Surgery is almost always done right away.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep with a temporary breathing tube in place.
A short incision will be made in the right lower abdomen. The doctor will be able to see the appendix through this cut. The appendix will be detached from surrounding tissue. The surgeon will stop any bleeding from blood vessels. The appendix will then be tied off and cut out. The incisions will then be closed with stitches or staples.
If the appendix has ruptured, a warm water solution mixed with antibiotics will be used to wash out the inside of the abdomen. A catheter (tube) will then be placed to drain any fluid that builds up. Sometimes, with a rupture, the surgeon will only close the muscle layers and leave the skin open. The open skin wound will then be packed with a moist gauze dressing.
The removed tissue is examined by a pathologist.
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may be given medicine to manage any pain.
You may be in the hospital for 0-3 days. If the appendix has ruptured, expect to stay for several days or more than a week.
Recovery takes about 4-6 weeks. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Surgeons
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Family Physician
Appendicitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 17, 2012. Accessed November 7, 2012.
Discharge instructions for an appendectomy. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/perc-about. Updated September 26, 2012. Accessed November 7, 2012.
Townsend C, Beauchamp DR, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2003.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
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