An appendectomy is surgery to remove the appendix.
See also: Appendicitis
The appendix is a small, finger-shaped organ extending from the first part of the large intestine. It is removed when it becomes inflamed or infected. A perforated appendix can leak and infect the entire abdominal area, which can be life-threatening. See: Peritonitis
An appendectomy is done under general anesthesia, which means you are asleep and do not feel any pain during the surgery. The surgeon makes a small cut in the lower right side of your belly area and removes the appendix.
The appendix can also be removed using minimally invasive techniques. This is called a laparoscopic appendectomy. It is performed with small incisions and a camera.
If the appendix ruptured or a pocket of infection (abscess) formed, your abdomen will be thoroughly washed out during surgery. A small tube may be left in the belly area to help drain out fluids or pus.
The symptoms of appendicitis vary. The condition can be hard to diagnose, especially in children, the elderly, and women of childbearing age.
Most often, the first symptom is pain around your belly button.
Other symptoms include:
If you have symptoms of appendicitis, seek immediate medical help. Do not use heating pads, enemas, laxatives, or other home treatments to try and relieve symptoms.
Your health care provider will examine your abdomen and rectum. Other tests may be done.
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 an operation.
Even when the surgeon discovers the appendix is not infected, it will be removed to prevent future problems.
Risks for any anesthesia include the following:
Risks for any surgery include the following:
Other risks with an appendectomy after a ruptured appendix include the following:
Patients tend to recover quickly after a simple appendectomy. Most patients leave the hospital in 1 - 3 days after surgery. You can resume normal activities within 2 - 4 weeks after leaving the hospital.
Recovery is slower and more complicated if the appendix has ruptured or an abscess has formed.
Living without an appendix causes no known health problems.