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Health Encylopedia

 
Appendectomy
 
SubjectContents
Definition Surgical removal of an inflamed or infected appendix ( appendicitis ).  
Alternative Names Appendix removal
Description The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch of intestinal tissue located between the small intestine (cecum) and large intestine (colon). It is thought that blockage of the opening of the appendix into the bowel by a hard small stool fragment (fecalith) causes inflammation and infection of the appendix ( appendicitis ). The infected appendix then must be surgically removed (emergency appendectomy) before a hole develops in the appendix (perforation) and spreads the infection to the entire abdominal space ( peritonitis ). The surgery is done while the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia). A small incision is made in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen and the appendix is removed. If a pocket of infection ( abscess ) has formed or the appendix has ruptured (perforated), the abdomen will be thoroughly washed out during surgery and a small tube will be left in to help drain out fluids or pus.
Indications Infection or inflammation of the appendix ( appendicitis '>acute appendicitis ). Symptoms of appendicitis '>acute appendicitis include:
  • Pain --
  • abdominal pain (located in the lower right side)
  • Fever
  • (
  • elevated temperature )
  • Reduced appetite (
  • anorexia )
  • Nausea
  • ,
  • vomiting Your doctor will:
  • Check your abdomen for tenderness and tightness
  • Check your rectum for tenderness and an enlarged appendix
  • Check your blood for an increase in white blood cells (
  • WBC ) There is no test to confirm appendicitis and the symptoms may be caused by other illnesses. The doctor must diagnose from the information you report and what he sees. Even if the surgeon finds that the appendix is not infected (which can happen up to 25% of the time), he will thoroughly check the other abdominal organs and remove the appendix anyway.
    Risks Risks for any anesthesia are:
  • Reactions to medications
  • Problems breathing
  • Risks for any surgery are:
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Additional risks for appendectomy that occurs with a ruptured appendicitis include:
  • Longer hospital stays
  • Antibiotic treatment
  • CAUTION: There are deaths annually in the U.S. from untreated acute appendicitis . If a person has symptoms of appendicitis (pain in the lower right abdomen, fever , loss of appetite , nausea , vomiting )
  • DO NOT use heating pads, enemas, laxatives, or other home treatments.
  • DO seek emergency health care promptly (your doctor or the emergency room). 
  • Expectations after surgery Recovery from a simple appendectomy is usually complete and rapid. If the appendix has developed an abscess or ruptured, the recovery will be slower and more complicated, requiring use of medications to treat the infection (antibiotics). Living without an appendix causes no known health problems.
    Convalescence Convalescence is usually short and most patients leave the hospital in 1 to 3 days after the operation. Normal activities can be resumed within 1 to 3 weeks after leaving the hospital.