Appendectomy—Laparoscopic Surgery

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Definition    TOP

An appendectomy is the removal of the appendix. The appendix is a small, blind-ended tube that is attached to the large intestine.

Reasons for Procedure    TOP

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.

Inflamed Appendix

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Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to other organs
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Blockage of the bowel

Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Imaging studies of the abdomen may be done to find the appendix and look for evidence of infection or inflammation, including:

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.

Anesthesia

General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep, with a temporary breathing tube in place.

Description of the Procedure    TOP

Three small incisions will be made in your abdomen. A laparoscope (small tool with a camera on the end) will be passed through an incision. Gas will be blown into your 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.

After Procedure    TOP

The removed tissue is examined by a pathologist.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

1-2 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Average Hospital Stay    TOP

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.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

At the Hospital

You will be asked to get out of bed about 6 hours after surgery.

Preventing Infection

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incision
At Home

Recovery takes about 1-2 weeks.

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Rest, and take it easy for 1-2 weeks.
  • Do not exercise or do heavy lifting for 1 or more weeks as directed by your doctor.
  • Gradually increase activities as approved by your doctor.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision sites
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
  • Increased abdominal pain
  • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Passing blood in the stool

If you think you are having an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES:

American College of Surgeons
http://www.facs.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
http://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Family Physician
http://www.cfp.ca

References:

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.
Patient information for laparoscopic appendectomy surgery from SAGES. Society of American Gastroenterolotical and Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed December 1, 2014.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed November 2014 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/22/2014