Appendicitis is a condition wherein the appendix becomes swollen and in pain.
The appendix is a thin, small pouch measuring roughly two to four inches long. It is connected to the large intestine. The exact bodily function of the appendix hasn’t been determined yet.
Removing it from the body will not cause any negative effects. Normally, appendicitis begins with a pain in the central part of your abdomen that may disappear and reappear.
After a couple of hours, this pain would move to the lower-right side of your abdomen, where the appendix is positioned.
This pain becomes extreme and persistent. If you press on this area, the pain will become greater. Even walking or coughing will worsen the pain. You may develop a fever, feel weak and sick, and lose your appetite.
In some cases, it may even cause diarrhea.
More often than not, your appendix will have to be surgically removed right away if you have or are suspected to have appendicitis. This surgical procedure is called an “appendectomy.”
It should be noted that there is no accurate way of testing for appendicitis. The doctor will have to rely on the symptoms you are experiencing.
If the symptoms suggest that there is a high possibility of appendicitis, an appendectomy might be recommended.
It is regarded as safer to have the appendix removed surgically than run the risk of letting appendicitis worsen and result in the bursting of the appendix.
As mentioned earlier, no important bodily purpose is being served by the appendix, therefore removing it will not cause any harmful, long-term issues.
An appendectomy can be conducted via two types of surgery, both of which are performed under general anesthesia.
The first type of appendectomy is open surgery. This is the traditional way of removing the appendix.
In this procedure, a single cut is made in the lower-right part of your abdomen. The appendix will be removed through this cut.
The incision will then be closed using either traditional stitches or dissolvable stitches. If traditional stitches are used, they will need to be removed by the doctor after seven to ten days.
Open surgery is recommended for the following circumstances:
- When there is extensive peritonitis (this is a condition wherein the abdomen’s inner lining has an infection). It is necessary to operate through a long incision along the center of the abdomen (this operation is referred to as a “laparotomy”).
- When the patient already had previous open surgery on the abdomen.
- When the surgeon is not very adept at the other type of appendectomy, i.e., laparoscopy
- When the appendix has burst already and an appendix mass has already formed
Laparoscopy, also known as “keyhole surgery,” is usually the favored type of appendectomy simply because the recovery time is much faster than that of open surgery.
In additions, the incisions made are much smaller, making it more ideal when it comes to aesthetic considerations. Larger cuts or incisions will naturally leave larger and more visible scars.
In a laparoscopy, 3-4 small incisions are made in your abdomen through which special tools are inserted, such as the following:
- Small surgical devices used for removing the appendix
- A laparoscope, a tiny tube with a camera and a light source at the end that relays footage of the inside of your stomach to a television viewing screen
- A tube where gas is pumped through for the purpose of inflating your abdomen (this lets the surgeon get a bigger space to work in and a clearer view of your appendix
After successfully removing the appendix, the surgeon will close the incisions using dissolvable stitches.
However, the surgeon may also use conventional stitches. Similar to open surgery, these conventional stitches have to be removed after seven to ten days.
In addition, regardless of the type of appendectomy conducted, the appendix removed is customarily sent to a laboratory for a biopsy.
This is a diagnostic procedure to check for cancer cells. This is only a safety measure. Almost always, the appendices removed during appendectomies are not cancerous.
An appendectomy is one of the most commonly conducted surgeries all over the world. It is very rare for an appendectomy to have any long-term or grave complications.
However, such complications or risks are not impossible.
The following are some examples of risks associated with an appendectomy:
- Hernia – It is possible for a hernia to develop near the site of the incision, whether or not open surgery or laparoscopy was conducted.
- Abscess – Very rarely, an appendix that burst may cause an infection that could result in an abscess after an appendectomy.
- Scars – Though not life-threatening, an appendectomy procedure will most likely leave some scars where the incisions were done. The scars may be worse if you are a keloid former.
- Hematoma – This refers to hemorrhage below the skin that causes a firm inflammation. Normally, this subsides on its own. It is okay to consult a doctor though if you are worried about it.
- Wound infection – This is a possible risk of an appendectomy. However, your doctor may give some antibiotics to prevent any serious infection from happening.
- Allergic reaction – Some patients are allergic to the general anesthetic used during the surgery. This is a very rare instance though.
As mentioned earlier, the primary advantage of laparoscopy over open surgery is that the recovery time for the former is much faster.
If the appendectomy done through a laparoscopy is conducted smoothly and there are no complications, the majority of patients would be able to go home after just one day.
However, for open surgery or when there are complications, it could take up to seven days before you can be allowed to go home.
It is normal to experience some bruising and feel some pain during the first couple of days after surgery. Your surgeon may prescribe some potent pain relievers to help you cope with the pain.
If your procedure was a laparoscopy, it is normal to feel some pain for roughly one week at the tip of your shoulder. This pain results from the gas pumped into your abdomen to inflate it during surgery.
If you have reason to believe that you might have appendicitis, consult a doctor immediately.
If you have stomach aches and are not sure of the reason why you can check more articles and learn about what can cause it.