by Editorial Staff and Contributors
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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.
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.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have an appendectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some risk factors that make complications more likely include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Intravenous 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, with a temporary breathing tube in place.
Description of the Procedure
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. The doctor will use these images to find and remove the appendix.
The appendix will be detached from surrounding tissue. The doctor will stop any bleeding from blood vessels. 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.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may be given medicine to manage any pain.
Average Hospital Stay
You may go home on the same day, if the surgery was routine. If infection, rupture, or other complications happen the stay will be longer.
At the Hospital
You will be asked to get out of bed about six hours after surgery.
Recovery takes about 1-2 weeks.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Surgeons
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Family Physician
American College of Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.facs.org . Accessed July 22, 2009.
Discharge instructions for an appendectomy. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/perc-about . Updated November 2008. Accessed July 22, 2009.
Schwartz S. Principles of Surgery . 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2001.
Townsend C, Beauchamp DR, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery . 16th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2001.
Townsend C, Beauchamp DR, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery . 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2003.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : 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 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 11/30/2012