The appendix is a tube-like organ connected to the large intestine that is a few centimetres long. It is typically located beneath and to the right of the belly button.
The appendix is a rudimentary organ, that is, it does not serve any known function within the human body, yet if it gets infected or inflamed, it can result in appendicitis. The standard treatment for appendicitis is an appendectomy, also called appendicitis surgery or appendicectomy, which is normally undertaken as an emergency operation because if not treated, it can burst, resulting in serious complications and even death.
Here, the appendectomy, what to expect before, after, and during surgery, complications and risks, and what happens if we delay the appendicitis surgery are discussed in detail.
What is an appendectomy?
An appendectomy is a surgical operation that involves the removal of the appendix, a tiny tube-shaped organ positioned at the start of the large intestine.
Appendectomy is the conventional curative surgical treatment for appendicitis, a distressing and painful inflammatory condition of the appendix. Appendicitis is a medical emergency since an inflamed appendix possesses the potential to rupture, which can be extremely dangerous. A normal appendix, on the contrary, appears to serve no purpose. You won’t miss your appendix if it is removed.
What are the techniques used in appendectomy surgery?
An appendicectomy surgical procedure can be performed as either open or laparoscopic surgery, depending on the severity of the condition and the surgeon’s preference. In both cases, the patient will be given general anaesthesia to ensure that they are fully asleep and do not feel any pain during the operation.
- Open appendectomy
During the open appendectomy surgical procedure, the surgeon starts by making a small cut in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen and removing the appendix through the incision. Based on the severity of appendicitis and the patient’s body size, the cut maybe 2 to 4 inches long. The surgeon would then clean the region and close the cut with sutures or surgical staples after removing the appendix.
- Laparoscopic appendectomy
During the laparoscopic appendectomy procedure, the surgeon will make three to four small cuts in the stomach and place a scope (a thin tube-like structure with a camera and a light at its tip) through one of these incisions. The camera transmits the pictures of what is inside the abdomen to a monitor, which allows the surgeon to clearly visualise the appendix and adjacent areas and organs. After this, the surgeon will insert surgical instruments through the other incision and use the instruments to remove the appendix. The cuts are then stitched together.
While performing the laparoscopic appendectomy, the surgeon may make a decision that the patient needs an open appendectomy.
If the appendix has ruptured and the infection has spread, an open appendectomy may be required.
An open appendectomy may cause more pain and scarring than a laparoscopic appendectomy. Once healed, the scar from either type of surgical procedure is often difficult to see.
Both procedures have a minimal risk of complications. A laparoscopic appendectomy results in a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, and lower infection rates than an open appendectomy.
What happens if the surgery is delayed?
Delaying surgery can result in the following issues:
- It may end up causing the inflamed appendix to rupture or burst. This may cause the infected contents to leak into the abdominal cavity.
- This can lead to a serious problem, such as peritonitis, an inflammatory condition that affects the membranes lining the stomach walls and organs.
- It can cause redness and swelling in the abdomen.
- It can lead to bowel obstruction.
- If left untreated, the sharp and dull pain will progress into severe cramping.
What should I expect before the appendectomy surgery?
- The doctor will first perform a routine check-up and then explain the surgery to the patient.
- Following that, the patient will be required to complete a consent form, which gives the doctor permission to perform the surgery.
- Individuals will be asked about their previous health, and they may be asked to provide blood tests or other diagnostic tests.
- The doctor may inquire if patients are taking any prescription drugs or non-prescription medicines for underlying conditions like hypertension or diabetes.
- Patients must not consume any liquids or eat anything for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours prior to surgery.
- If the patient is pregnant or has an allergy to latex or anaesthesia or even just any medication, they should inform the doctor.
- Before the procedure, a sedative may be administered to help the patient relax.
What can I expect on the day of the surgery?
- Based on the findings of the pre-admission assessment, the patient may be instructed to stop drinking or eating.
- Patients must arrive at the hospital well before the scheduled time.
- Patients must take off their jewellery and change their clothes before the surgery. They will be provided with hospital robes or gowns.
- Surgical site preparation, such as shaving the hair in that area, will be performed.
- The patient will be given anaesthesia prior to the surgery so that they do not experience any discomfort or pain during the procedure.
What can I expect during an appendectomy surgery?
- A patient will either have a laparoscopic or an open appendectomy, depending on their condition.
- Most open appendectomy procedures necessitate a hospital stay.
- The patient will be given an anaesthetic, which can be either general or regional, but a general anaesthetic is usually administered.
- To help the patient breathe, a tube will be inserted down the throat. During the surgery, the anaesthesiologist will monitor the heart rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen level.
- Medications will be administered to the patient via IV during the procedure.
What can I expect following surgery?
After the surgery, the patient will be shifted to the recovery room. Their vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse rate, will be monitored by the doctor.
- The recovery time will differ depending on whether the patient had an open appendectomy or a laparoscopic appendectomy.
- If a laparoscopic appendectomy was performed, patients may be discharged and sent home from the recovery room.
- Patients will be given pain relievers as needed.
- Patients may have a thin plastic tube running from the nose to the stomach to evacuate the air that they swallow and stomach fluids. This tube will be removed once the patient’s bowel movement is stable.