The term appendectomy refers to the surgical procedure of removing the vermiform appendix. Go through this article for some information about the surgery.
Usually, appendectomy is performed to remove the vermiform appendix, which is infected or inflamed. Such inflammation of the appendix is termed appendicitis, which causes severe abdominal pain. Vermiform appendix is a finger-shaped tube-like organ, that projects out of the cecum, which is the junction between the small intestine and the large intestine. The average length of the vermiform appendix is around ten centimeters, and it has a diameter of about eight millimeters.
The appendix is located at the lower right side of the abdomen. It is believed that this organ is a vestigial one, with no obvious function. An infection of the appendix may result in inflammation, and lead to complications. So, most cases of appendectomy are performed as emergency procedures, so as to avoid rupture of the inflamed appendix, and to protect the body from the complications associated with such rupture.
While this surgery is preferred in most cases of chronic appendicitis, mild ones are often treated with antibiotics. The surgery can be performed in two ways – open and laparoscopic. Laparoscopy is mostly preferred in case of doubtful diagnosis of appendicitis, or to avoid undesirable scars. This procedure is more expensive, but the recovery time is less, when compared to open surgery. So, the type of surgery is a factor that decides the total cost. An open or typical appendicitis surgery involves the following steps:
- The first step is administration of antibiotics, to prevent sepsis. If there are symptoms of sepsis, antibiotics are given beforehand. Otherwise, intravenous antibiotics are given before the surgery.
- Once anesthesia is given, an incision (two to three inches long) is made in the right lower abdomen, several inches above the hip bone. The location of incision is called the McBurney’s point, which represents the position of the base of the appendix.
- This incision cuts open the skin as well as the abdominal muscle tissues. The appendix is identified and removed, along with the infected tissues. The surgeon may also wash the area with sterile fluid, and suction out the pus. If the leakage from the ruptured appendix has spread, then the surgeon has to wash the whole abdomen.
- The opening is sutured or stapled, and each layer of the abdominal wall is closed. Appendectomy is complete, when the opening in the skin is sutured or stapled, and the wound is dressed with sterile bandage.
- In case of laparoscopic appendectomy, small incisions are made. Laparoscope with an attached camera (which sends images to a monitor) is inserted through one incision. The abdominal tissues are held with instruments inserted through the other incisions. The abdominal cavity is inflated with carbon dioxide, so that the surgeon gets enough space to work. Once the appendix is removed, the procedure is same as that of the open surgery. In case of a ruptured appendix, open surgery is mostly performed, to prevent complications. Open surgery may cause scars, and is associated with longer recovery time.
Once the surgery is over, the patient is shifted to the recovery room. The recovery time may vary from one person to another. In case of an unruptured appendix, the recovery may be quicker, as compared to a ruptured one. The most common complications associated with appendectomy are fever, infection of the wound, and intra-abdominal abscess. Complications, like breathing trouble and chest infection can be caused by anesthesia. Bowel problems may also occur in some rare cases.
Appendectomy is one of the commonly performed surgeries. The recovery time and cost depend on the type of the procedure, and the condition of the patient. Some patients may recover within a few days, while some others may take two to three weeks. The patient has to start with a liquid diet, which can be gradually converted to a normal one. With proper care and restricted physical activity for a short period, normal health can be retained.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.