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Appendectomy: What is it and How is the Procedure Done?

Appendectomy: What is it and How is the Procedure Done?

An appendectomy, also known as appendicectomy, is a type of surgery for appendix removal.

Situated at the lower right side of the abdomen, the appendix is a tube-shaped pouch fixed to your large intestine. This small pouch is known as a vestigial organ, because your body can function well even without it.

Appendectomy is one of the common emergency surgeries to treat appendicitis, a condition when the appendix gets infected.

The infected appendix can cause a lot of pain near the lower right side of the abdomen. Other common symptoms include nausea and fever. The treatment is important because if left untreated, the appendix can rupture and spead the infection and other harmful toxins into the abdominal cavity. This can be life-threatening.

What is Appendectomy for?

Appendectomy is the only treatment for appendicitis. If your doctor suspects that you have appendicitis, they will advise this appendix removal surgery.

An appendicectomy is a simple and common surgery that treats appendicitis. However, there are certain risks that are associated with it like:

  • Blocked bowels
  • Bleeding
  • Organ injury
  • Infection

Nevertheless, the risks of untreated appendicitis are much higher than the appendix operation risks. Doctors suggest this surgery is a medical emergency to prevent the development of peritonitis and abscesses.

How to Prepare for Appendectomy?

Most appendectomy surgeries are done immediately so a patient undergoing this is required to follow a few instructions by the surgeon. Generally, a patient is advised to avoid any solid food consumption prior to the surgery. Doctors may use IV antibiotics to eliminate and reduce vomiting and nausea before surgery.

What Happens During Appendectomy?

An appendix removal surgery is of two types: Laparoscopic Appendectomy and Open Appendectomy. Laparoscopic surgery is the common appendicitis surgery carried by doctors as it is less invasive than Open surgery.

Laparoscopic appendix operation

Usually, a doctor performs this surgery with the help of general anesthesia. After a person is unconscious, a surgeon makes a few small cuts around the abdomen to get access to the appendix. Further, the surgeon inserts a small, narrow tube called a Cannula to fill the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas. This gas helps the surgeon to look at the appendix clearly.

Once the abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide, an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted through the incision. A laparoscope is a thin, long tube with a high-resolution camera and high-intensity light. The camera and light on the laparoscope help the surgeon to see inside the abdomen through a screen and guide the instruments.

When the appendix is found, the surgeon ties it off with stitches and removes it. Once removed, the surgeon cleans the small incisions, closes the cuts, and dresses properly.

According to health experts, laparoscopic appendix removal is the best option for overweight individuals and older people. It is considered to have fewer risks than an open appendix operation and generally has a shorter recovery duration.

Open appendix operation

During an open appendicectomy, a surgeon makes one big cut in the lower right side of the abdomen. The surgeon then removes the appendix and closes the wound with stitches. According to the doctors, this type of surgery helps the surgeon to clean the abdominal cavity in case the appendix has burst.

A doctor may suggest open appendectomy if the infected appendix has burst and the infection has spread to other organs. Also, it is the preferred option for people who have undergone abdominal surgery before.

What is the Recovery Period for Appendectomy?

The recovery time for a patient is completely dependent on the type of the surgery, type of anesthesia, and complications developed after the surgery.

A person who underwent a laparoscopic appendectomy is discharged on the same day to recover at home, while people undergoing an open appendicectomy are required to stay overnight or more. Although a person can resume normal activities within a few weeks, full recovery may take 4 to 6 weeks. Until a person recovers to the whole, they are advised to avoid strenuous activities.

Post-surgical Care for Appendectomy

If you have undergone appendectomy surgery, follow these steps to take care of yourself:

  • Avoid using the staircase and lifting heavy objects
  • Use mild laxative for the first few days
  • Rest
  • Avoid inadequate diet
  • Follow the dietary advice given by the doctor
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Slowly resume normal activities
  • Once you feel ready to try normal activities, start with simple ones.

Learn more about other Digestive Health Issues here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Apr 04, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel