Appendix is a small, elongated, finger-like sac attached to the right side of the colon. It is also referred to as vermiform appendix because of its worm-like shape. It was believed that this is a vestigial organ and has no function in the human body. However, recent studies have discovered that it plays an important part in the immune system of the body. An infection in the appendix can result in severe inflammation, rupturing the organ and causing several complications. This condition is known as appendicitis and is known to affect about 7% of the population. Appendectomy is generally performed in such cases to avoid the rupture of the inflamed appendix.
Appendectomy is normally performed as an emergency procedure to avoid the effects of acute appendicitis. It may be done laparoscopically, which means buy minimal invasive surgery, or by open operation. Laparoscopy is an expensive procedure and takes longer time than the normal surgery, but it leaves less scars and has a lesser recovery time. It involves the insertion of a camera into the abdomen to view the appendix, followed by its removal through minimal skin cuts. The skin cuts are then closed with dissolvable stitches. The classical open operation involves an incision of about 2-3 inches long, made in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. The appendix is then removed through the same hole. Antibiotics are given to the patient prior to the surgery, as soon as appendicitis is suspected. The operation is generally carried out under general anesthesia. The cost of this procedure differs from country to country. It also depends on the severity of the condition and the type of surgery.
There can be several problems during or after the appendectomy, the most common being an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic, leading to the collapse of small airways. Other complications include excessive bleeding during the operation, formation of a blood clot, and inflammation of the veins. Adhesions, which are the common complications of any abdominal surgery, can occur. This can lead to intestinal obstruction, preventing the normal flow of intestinal contents. Hernia may also occur at the surgical site, although it is very rare.
Appendix surgery is quite common and is considered to be safe. However, there may be some side effects associated with it. Some of them are as follows:
- Soreness or bruising
- Swelling in the operated area
- Problem in breathing due to anesthesia
- Side effects of medications
Generally, patients tend to recover quickly after the surgery, but the recovery time may vary depending on the age of the person, severity of the condition, complications involved, and other circumstances. Normally, most patients leave after 2- 3 days in the hospital and can resume their normal activities within 3 - 4 weeks. But, those with a ruptured appendix or other complications, take a longer time to recover. Painkillers, like paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be taken to relieve pain as per the doctor's advice.
Mild cases of appendicitis may be treated with antibiotics alone and do not require a surgery. However, one should keep in mind that living without an appendix can cause no health issues. So, if your appendix gets infected, get it removed as soon as possible before it ruptures.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.