Appendectomy - series

Normal anatomy

Normal anatomy

The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch of intestinal tissue located at the junction of the small intestine (cecum) and large intestine (colon).

Indications

Indications

If the appendix becomes infected (appendicitis), the infected appendix must be surgically removed (emergency appendectomy) before a hole develops in the appendix (perforation) and spreads the infection to the entire abdominal space (peritonitis).

Symptoms of acute appendicitis include:

  • Pain: abdominal pain (usually located in the lower right side)
  • Fever (elevated temperature)
  • Reduced appetite (anorexia)
  • Nausea; vomiting

The doctor will:

  • Check your abdomen for tenderness and tightness
  • Check your rectum for tenderness
  • Check your blood for an increase in white blood cells (WBC)
  • Perform a pelvic exam in women, to exclude pain caused by the ovaries or uterus

If your doctors are uncertain about the diagnosis, they can perform a computed tomography (CT) scan to see if the appendix is inflamed.

Incision

Incision

While the patient is deep asleep and pain free, a small incision is made in the lower right side of the abdomen and the appendix is removed. In some cases, laparoscopic surgery can allow removal of the appendix through tiny incisions.

Procedure

Procedure

If a pocket of infection (abscess) has formed or the appendix has ruptured (perforated), the abdomen will be thoroughly washed out during surgery. The surgeon may then leave the incision open and allow it to heal together on its own (secondary intention), to allow the infection to drain or, more frequently, put in a small drainage tube.

Aftercare

Aftercare

Recovery from a simple appendectomy is usually complete and rapid. Most patients can go home the day after the operation, and resume normal diet and activities within one to two weeks. If the appendix has developed an abscess or has ruptured, the recovery may be slower and more complicated, requiring use of medications to treat the infection (antibiotics).

Living without an appendix does not cause any health problems.

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 01/17/2013
  • Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch)

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

         
Average rating (0)