Appendicitis and Appendectomies
The appendix is a three to six inch long structure that attaches at the junction of the small and large intestine. It has no known function, but can become inflamed and need to be removed. This is done through a procedure called an appendectomy. The inflammation and pain associated with an unhealthy appendix is called appendicitis.
Appendicitis can occur because of fecal matter obstruction, but this is not always the case. It usually develops within six to 12 hours without warning. Symptoms of appendicitis include abdominal pain that begins mildly around the navel and increases over the course of several hours. The abdomen may also become rigid and sensitive to pressure. These symptoms are typically accompanied by loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting. If left untreated, appendicitis can lead to a ruptured appendix and serious infection.
Approximately two-thirds of people who develop appendicitis are female. Most are between the ages of 15 and 44. Diagnosis is based primarily on reported symptoms and a quick physical exam. Sometimes a patient’s white blood count is elevated. If the condition is urgent with severe pain and concern for rupture, surgery is performed as soon as possible. Otherwise, further testing can be ordered to confirm diagnosis.
During the laparoscopic procedure, a camera is inserted through a small incision in the umbilicus. This is used to view the abdominal cavity. Surgical instruments are inserted through two small incisions. This method allows for quicker healing and less pain.
Appendectomies are considered safe, but as with all surgeries, there are some risks involved. These include:
- Infection of abdominal cavity or wall (most common after a rupture)
- Injury to Organs
- Issues with laparoscopic surgery that requires transition to open surgery