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An appendectomy is the removal of the appendix. The appendix is a small, blind-ended tube that is attached to the large intestine.
An appendectomy is most often done as an emergency operation to treat appendicitis. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. It can be caused by an infection or obstruction.
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor may do the following:
IV fluids and antibiotics will be started right away. Since appendicitis is an emergency condition, surgery is almost always done as soon a possible after the diagnosis is made.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the procedure.
Three small incisions will be made in the abdomen. A laparoscope (small tool with a camera on the end) will be passed through an incision. Gas will be blown into the abdomen to make it easier for the doctor to see. Other tools will be inserted into the incisions. The camera will send images of your insides to a video screen. These images will be used to find and remove the appendix.
The appendix will be detached from surrounding tissue. Any bleeding from the blood vessels will be stopped. The appendix will then be tied off and cut out. The incisions will be closed with stitches or staples.
The removed tissue is examined by a pathologist.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
You may go home on the same day, if the surgery was routine. If infection, rupture, or other complications happen, then the stay will be longer.
You will be asked to get out of bed about 6 hours after surgery.
Your bowels will work more slowly than usual. Chewing gum may help speed the process of your bowel function returning to normal.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Recovery takes about 1-2 weeks.
When you return home:
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American College of Surgeons
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Appendectomy. American College of Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.facs.org/~/media/files/education/patient%20ed/app.ashx. Updated 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.
Appendicitis in adolescents and adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 27, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.
Patient information for laparoscopic appendectomy surgery from SAGES. Society of American Gastroenterolotical and Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-appendectomy-from-sages. Accessed December 1, 2014.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
3/23/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Short V, Herbert G, Perry R, et al. Chewing gum for postoperative recovery of gastrointestinal function. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2:CD006506.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Donald Buck, MD Last Updated: 3/23/2015