An appendicitis surgery is a commonly performed medical procedure. The operation is required when the appendix becomes swollen and inflamed This article talks about the causes, diagnosis and surgical treatment of this condition.
Appendicitis is a condition where the appendix is inflamed, swollen, and infected. The appendix is located in the lower right area of the abdomen. It is a small protrusion in the shape of a worm like pouch and is attached to the large intestine. The function of the appendix is unclear, especially since its removal does not seem to affect a person’s health in any way. However, new studies are exploring the possibility that the appendix may contain and protect bacteria that are beneficial in the function of the human colon.
Development of Appendicitis
The inside of the appendix is called the appendiceal lumen. Mucus created by the appendix travels through the appendiceal lumen and empties into the large intestine. Appendicitis is caused when the appendiceal lumen becomes obstructed. Feces, parasites, or growths that clog the appendiceal lumen can obstruct it. Other reasons for development of this condition are enlarged lymph tissue in the wall of the appendix (caused by infection), inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), or trauma to the abdomen.
The mucus which is usually secreted gets pushed back into the appendiceal lumen, and this results in the multiplication of the bacteria that normally live inside the appendix. This chain of activity ends in the appendix which makes it infected and swollen. An infected appendix might burst if it is not removed. Bursting spreads infection throughout the abdomen, and gives rise to a potentially dangerous condition called peritonitis.
The most common form of treatment is appendicitis surgery and removal of the appendix. A doctor will determine the seriousness of the condition through a physical examination or tests. Prompt surgery decreases the likelihood that the appendix will burst. If a person exhibits classic symptoms and appendicitis is suspected, a doctor will often suggest surgery without conducting extensive diagnostic testing. In a case which is difficult to diagnose, a doctor may use laboratory and imaging tests to confirm the presence of the ailment.
Surgery Treatment Options
Laparotomy and Laparoscopy
There are two ways to perform an appendicitis surgery or appendectomy. Laparotomy is the older method and involves the removal of the appendix through a single incision in the lower right area of the abdomen. The newer method, called laparoscopic surgery, uses several smaller incisions and special surgical tools fed through the incisions to remove the appendix. As Laparoscopic surgery uses a more advanced method, it leads to fewer complications that result out of hospital-related infections, and has a shorter recovery time.
A rare occurrence, but one that take place nonetheless is the finding of a normal appendix during surgery. In these circumstances, many surgeons will remove the healthy appendix to eliminate the possibility of appendicitis in the future. In case surgery reveals a different problem, if the situation permits, then it may be corrected there and then.
If treatment is not prompt, an appendix may burst and an abscess forms around it called an appendiceal abscess. This abscess is a pus-filled mass that results from the body’s attempt to keep an infection from spreading. This can also be remedied through surgery or is more commonly drained before the procedure. The abscess which is found with the help of CT is drained by placing a tube in the abscess through the abdominal wall. This process goes on for about 2 weeks, during which the drainage tube is left in place and antibiotics are administered to treat infection. Usually, within a period of six to eight weeks the inflammation subsides and the infection is brought under control. At this time, surgery is usually performed to remove what remains of the burst appendix.
In certain cases, non-surgical treatment is an option, like where the person is not well enough to undergo surgery, or if the diagnosis is unclear. This course of treatment includes administration of antibiotics to treat any infection and a liquid or soft diet until the infection subsides. A soft diet is low in fiber and breaks down easily in the gastrointestinal tract. However, a doctor would be the best judge as to which treatment is required.
For 4 to 6 weeks post an appendicitis surgery, a patient needs to take proper care, restricting physical activity to allow the tissues to heal. A complete recovery can easily be achieved and leaves no need for changes to diet, exercise, or lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.