Appendectomy – open surgery – Definition
An appendectomy is the removal of the appendix. The appendix is a pouch that is attached to the large intestine.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Reasons for Procedure
An appendectomy is often done as an emergency operation to treat appendicitis. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. It can be caused by an infection or obstruction.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Possible Complications
Complications are rare but no procedure is completely free of risk. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:
- Damage to other organs
- Reaction to anesthesia
Some risk factors that make complications more likely include:
- Ruptured appendix
- Age: 65 or older
- Chronic lung or heart disease
Appendectomy – open surgery – What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam
- Blood and urine tests
- Your doctor may need detailed pictures of your appendix. These can be made with:
- CT scan
Antibiotics will be started right away. Appendicitis is an emergency condition. Surgery is almost always done right away.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Anesthesia
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep with a temporary breathing tube in place.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Description of the Procedure
A short incision will be made in the right lower abdomen. The doctor will be able to see the appendix through this cut. The appendix will be detached from surrounding tissue. The surgeon will stop any bleeding from blood vessels. The appendix will then be tied off and cut out. The incisions will then be closed with stitches or staples.
If the appendix has ruptured, a warm water solution mixed with antibiotics will be used to wash out the inside of the abdomen. A catheter (tube) will then be placed to drain any fluid that builds up. Sometimes, with a rupture, the surgeon will only close the muscle layers and leave the skin open. The open skin wound will then be packed with a moist gauze dressing.
Appendectomy – open surgery – After Procedure
The removed tissue is examined by a pathologist.
Appendectomy – open surgery – How Long Will It Take?
Appendectomy – open surgery – Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may be given medicine to manage any pain.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Average Hospital Stay
You may be in the hospital for 0-3 days. If the appendix has ruptured, expect to stay for several days or more than a week.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Post-procedure Care
At the Hospital
- You will be asked to get out of bed about six hours after surgery.
- If your appendix ruptured, drainage tubes will be removed after a few days.
Recovery takes about 4-6 weeks. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- You may resume your normal diet as soon as possible.
- You may be given antibiotics to fight infection. Take all the medications ordered even if you start to feel better.
- Keep the incision area clean and dry.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Wash your hands before changing the dressing.
- Rest and take it easy for 1-2 weeks.
- Do not exercise or do heavy lifting for one or more weeks as directed by your doctor.
- Slowly increase activities as approved by your doctor.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Appendectomy – open surgery – Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
- Increased abdominal pain
- Fainting or dizziness
- Passing blood in the stool
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.