Surgery for Appendicitis
Your side may hurt so much that you called your doctor. Or maybe you went straight to the hospital emergency room. After your evaluation, your doctor may decide that you have appendicitis. If so, surgery is needed. You will be sent to a hospital room. Or you may be taken right to an operating room. There you will be prepared for surgery.
You may receive fluids and antibiotics through an IV (intravenous) line. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any antibiotics. Before surgery, an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will also talk to you. He or she will give you general anesthesia just before your appendectomy. This keeps you pain-free and allows you to sleep during the surgery.
The goal of surgery is to remove the appendix safely. In most cases, the surgery lasts from 30 minutes to an hour. If your appendix has burst, surgery may take longer. One of two techniques may be used to reach the appendix. Your surgeon will discuss which is best for you.
Open surgery: One incision (about 2–3 inches long) is made in your lower right side. A bigger incision may be used if the appendix has perforated.
Laparoscopic surgery: From 2–4 small incisions are used. One is near your bellybutton. The others are elsewhere on your abdomen. A laparoscope, a thin tube with a camera attached, is inserted through one incision. The camera shows the inside of your abdomen on a monitor. This image helps guide the surgery. Surgical tools are inserted in the other incisions.
Finishing the Surgery
In most cases, the entire incision is closed with stitches or staples. Your surgeon may place a temporary drain in the wound or in the abdomen. This helps cure or prevent infection. If your appendix perforated, the outer layers of the incision may be left open. This lets the incision drain more easily. It may heal on its own, or be closed about 5 days later.
Most patients recover quickly after appendectomy. You will likely be in the hospital for 1 to 2 days. If your appendix burst you may stay longer. After you return home, plan on a follow-up visit to the doctor in 1 to 2 weeks.
In the Hospital
In most cases, you will drink liquids and walk on the day of the surgery. You will also receive pain medication. To help keep your lungs clear, you may be taught breathing exercises.
Back at Home
To help control pain from surgery, take your medications as directed. Avoid strenuous activity, heavy lifting, and driving until your surgeon says it is OK. As instructed, slowly resume your normal activities in 7–10 days.
Call your doctor if you notice any of the following:
Risks and complications can include: