The appendix is a narrow finger-like pouch that is located at the junction of ileum and cecum in the lower right quadrant of the abdominal cavity. The term appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix. Appendicitis is mainly caused due to the obstruction of appendix. If left untreated, the inflamed appendix can get infected and may even rupture. Rupturing of the appendix is certainly a life-threatening situation, that needs to be medically attended to. Appendectomy, which is the surgical removal of appendix, is the best way to avert such a medical crisis. In this article, we would find out more on how appendectomy is performed along with the aftercare measures that must be religiously followed post appendectomy.
How is Appendectomy Performed?
Appendectomy can be performed in the traditional way wherein a large incision may be made into the lower right quadrant in order to gain access to the appendix. In case of a ruptured appendix, doctors need to ensure that the abdominal cavity is thoroughly cleaned and no traces of pus or infected fluid remain inside the abdomen. The appendix is separated from the cecum and the cecum is closed. Suturing techniques are then followed in order to close the incision. At times, doctors may follow the minimally-invasive laparoscopic approach for the removal of the inflamed appendix. The removal of the appendix can be achieved by making smaller incisions. Under the laparoscopic surgery, a slender instrument called laparoscope is inserted through one of these small incisions. Since a small camera is attached to the laparoscope, the internal organs can be viewed on a video monitor. This way, the surgeons can locate the appendix, and surgical instruments can be inserted through small incisions to carry out the removal of the appendix. The cecum is then closed and the incision is sutured.
The time one may take to recover from an appendectomy recovery after surgery would vary depending on the type of surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is minimally-invasive which is why the recovery period would naturally be of a shorter duration. If the appendix ruptures during the surgery, there is a higher risk of complications arising after surgery. In such cases, the patient would have to stay in the hospital for a longer time. Once the patient is discharged, there are certain precautionary measures that must be followed. The importance of following these aftercare measures cannot be stressed enough. Here are some appendectomy aftercare measures that one must follow to speed up the healing process.
Follow-up Visits: Complications that may occur post appendectomy include peritonitis, generalized infection in the abdomen, perforated colon, paralytic ileus, distended abdomen or intra-abdominal abscesses. It is therefore, essential that the patient goes for the scheduled follow-up visits. Any untoward symptoms or health issues must be reported to the doctor.
Incision Care: There is a great need to take precautionary measures to avoid an infection at the site of the incision. Since an infection is one of the most common appendectomy complications, doctors recommend the use of antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections. It is extremely essential to complete the course of antibiotics. One must refrain from touching the incision site. There is a great need to ensure that the dressing is changed as and when needed. If you notice redness or pus around the incision, consult a doctor immediately.
Rest: One must refrain from indulging in any physical activity that would prevent the incision from healing. There is a great need to give your body enough time to recuperate. In case of an open surgery, one may need bed rest for at least a couple of weeks. Though laparoscopic surgery is minimally-invasive, this doesn't mean that one can indulge in strenuous physical activities soon after the surgery. After all, the skin as well as the internal organs that have been operated upon, need time to heal. Sudden jerky movements must be avoided. One must gradually resume the normal physical activities, and refrain from any stressful activity.
Medications: Besides antibiotics, doctors may also recommend the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers, vitamin supplements or other drugs in order to alleviate the symptoms that patients generally experience after appendectomy surgery. It is extremely essential that these medicines are taken as per the prescribed dosage.
Diet: The appendix is a projection from the cecum which in turn is the part of the large intestine. The large intestine performs the vital task of removal of wastes. Since a part of the intestine has been operated upon, some time is required for the tissues to heal. Thus, it would be in one's best interest not to burden the colon by eating foods that are not easily digestible. It would be best to start with a soft diet which includes mashed or pureed digestible foods. One must drink lots of water, and refrain from eating foods that may make one susceptible to constipation.
Though the time one would take to recover from appendectomy would vary depending on how complicated the surgery was, and also on the overall health of the patient, complying with the aforementioned guidelines will certainly ensure a speedy appendectomy recovery after surgery.