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
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:
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 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. 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.
After Procedure TOP
The removed tissue is examined by a pathologist.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
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 the stay will be longer.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
You will be asked to get out of bed about six hours after surgery.
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, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have 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:
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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
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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: 1/22/2014