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
An appendectomy is most often done as an emergency operation to treat appendicitis . Appendicitis is swelling of the appendix. It can be caused by an infection or blockage.
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over problems that could happen, like:
- 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
Problems to Look Out For
Call your doctor if you have:
- Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision sites
- Cough, shortness of breath or chest pain
- More belly pain
- Nausea or vomiting that is severe or does not go away
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Passing blood in the stool
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about
- Anesthesia options
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery.
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.
- Appendectomy. American College of Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.facs.org/~/media/files/education/patient%20ed/app.ashx.
- Appendicitis in adolescents and adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/appendicitis-in-adolescents-and-adults.
- Patient information for laparoscopic appendectomy surgery from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-appendectomy-from-sages.
- Short, V., Herbert, G., et al. Chewing gum for postoperative recovery of gastrointestinal function. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2015; 2: CD006506.
- Mills, E., Eyawo, O., et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Medicine, 2011; 124 (2): 144-154.
- James P. Cornell, MD
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