An appendectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the appendix. The appendix is a part of your gastrointestinal system. It is a small organ that sticks out of your colon (large intestine). It is in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen. There is some debate over the function of the appendix. It was previously thought to have no purpose, although that belief is being challenged. However, it is possible to live without your appendix. An appendectomy is done to remove the appendix when it has become infected.
An infected appendix is a condition known as appendicitis. An appendix that has become infected can rupture, spilling the contents of the infection in to the abdomen. This is a serious complication that can result in severe illness and even death in extreme cases. An appendectomy is the only really definitive cure for a diseased appendix that is at risk for rupturing.
Symptoms of acute appendicitis typically begin in the abdomen. There will be pain that will develop rapidly, usually over a period of a few hours. The pain will be localized to the lower right quadrant of the abdomen in most cases, although it is rarely seen in other parts of the abdomen as well.
Appendicitis is most commonly seen in younger people, typically between the teenage years and about 30. There are lots of exceptions to this however and appendicitis should not be ruled out just because a person is not in that age range.
Appendicitis can have a couple of difference causes. Obstructions can lead to the build-up of waste, leading to an infection. The presence of bacteria that do not belong in the gut can also cause the infection.
The first appendectomies were done as open surgeries. This involved making an incision that was several inches long in the abdomen. There would usually be a large scar involved in this type of surgery. Modern appendectomy surgeries are more likely to be laproscopic. Laproscopic appendectomies are a particular type of surgery that uses a significantly smaller incision.
There is no need to open the entire abdomen to perform a laproscopic appendectomy. The doctor inserts a flexible tool with a small camera to see what is being done on the inside. Laproscopic procedures have few complications and shorter recovery times compared to traditional surgery.
If the appendix has already ruptured, it may be too late for a laproscopic appendectomy. In those cases, it is necessary to do an open surgery in order to have better access to the infected area and ensure that all of the damaged tissue is removed.
If you have to have an appendectomy, your surgeon will provide you with much more detail on the nature of this procedure. They are common surgeries, and have a very high rate of success, but like any surgery, they can be frightening for the patient. Be sure to ask lots of questions if you must have this done.