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An appendectomy is surgery to remove the appendix when it is infected. This condition is called appendicitis. Appendectomy is a common emergency surgery.
The appendix is a thin pouch that is attached to the large intestine. It sits in the lower right part of your belly. If you have appendicitis, your appendix must be removed right away. If not treated, your appendix can burst. This is a medical emergency.
There are 2 types of surgery to remove the appendix. The standard method is an open appendectomy. A newer, less invasive method is a laparoscopic appendectomy.
During a laparoscopic surgery, your provider may decide that an open appendectomy is needed.
If your appendix has burst and infection has spread, you may need an open appendectomy.
A laparoscopic appendectomy may cause less pain and scarring than an open appendectomy. For either type of surgery, the scar is often hard to see once it has healed.
Both types of surgery have low risk of complications. A laparoscopic appendectomy has a shorter hospital stay, shorter recovery time, and lower infection rates.
You may need an appendectomy to remove your appendix if you show symptoms of appendicitis.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency. It is when your appendix becomes sore, swollen, and infected.
If you have appendicitis, there is a serious risk your appendix may burst or rupture. This can happen as soon as 48 to 72 hours after you have symptoms. It can cause a severe, life-threatening infection called peritonitis in your belly.
If you have appendicitis symptoms, seek medical care right away.
Some possible complications of an appendectomy include:
You may have other risks that are unique to you.Be sure to discuss any concerns with your health care provider before surgery.
Tell your health care provider if you:
Your health care provider may have other instructions for you based on your medical condition.
In most cases an appendectomy is an emergency surgery and will require a hospital stay. You will have either an open appendectomy or a laparoscopic appendectomy. This will depend on your condition and your health care provider’s practices.
An appendectomy is done while you are given medicines to put you into a deep sleep (under general anesthesia).
Generally, the appendectomy follows this process:
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. Your health care team will watch your vital signs, such as your heart rate and breathing. Your recovery will depend on the type of surgery that was done and the type of anesthesia you had. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are awake and alert, you will be taken to your hospital room.
A laparoscopic appendectomy may be done on an outpatient basis. In this case, you may be discharged and sent home from the recovery room.
You will have pain medicine as needed. This may be by prescription or from a nurse. Or you may give it to yourself through a device connected to your IV (intravenous) line.
You may have a thin plastic tube that goes through your nose into your stomach. This is used to remove stomach fluids and air that you swallow. The tube will be taken out when your bowels are working normally. You will not be able to eat or drink until the tube is removed.
You will be asked to get out of bed a few hours after a laparoscopic surgery or by the next day after an open surgery.
You may be allowed to drink liquids a few hours after surgery. You may slowly be able to add more solid foods.
You will set up a follow-up visit with your health care provider. This is often 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
When you are home, you must keep the incision clean and dry. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to bathe. Any stitches or surgical staples used will be removed at a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips were used, they should be kept dry. They will often fall off in a few days.
The incision and your abdominal muscles may ache, often after long periods of standing. Take a pain medicine as recommended by your provider. Aspirin or other pain medicines may raise your risk of bleeding. Only take medicines that your provider has approved.
If you had a laparoscopy, you may feel pain from the carbon dioxide gas that is still in your belly. This pain may last for a few days. You should feel a bit better each day.
Your provider will likely want you to walk and move around a bit. But avoid any tiring activity. Your provider will tell you when you can return to work and your normal activities.
Call your health care provider if you have any of the following:
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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