Appendix?

What is Appendix?

The appendix is a narrow, small, finger-shaped portion of the large intestine that is generally situated near junction of small and large intestine (Cecum) on lower right side of the abdomen.

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a sudden inflammation of the appendix. Although the appendix does not seem to serve any purpose, it can become diseased and, if untreated, can burst, causing infection and could be even fatal.

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Causes of Appendicitis

Appendicitis occurs when the interior of the appendix becomes filled with something that causes it to swell, such as mucus, bacteria, foreign body, hard stool, or parasites. The appendix then becomes irritated and inflamed. Appendix may perforate allowing stool, mucus, and other substances to leak through and get inside the abdomen causing localized abscess or generalised infection of abdomen (peritonitis).

Symptoms &

Diagnosis

Symptoms of Appendicitis may includes:

  • Abdominal pain - pain may begin around the belly button and then get localized in right lower abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain may be worse when walking or coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever usually occurs within several hours
  • Constipation
  • Rectal tenderness
  • Chills and rigours

Diagnosis:

The diagnosis of appendicitis begins with a through history and physical examination. Patients often have an elevated temperature, and there usually will be moderate to severe tenderness in the right lower abdomen when the doctor pushes there. If inflammation has spread to the peritoneum, there is frequently rebound tenderness. Rebound tenderness is pain that is worse when the doctor quickly releases his or her hand after gently pressing on the abdomen over the area of tenderness.

The following tests are usually used to make the diagnosis:

  • Blood test to look for signs of infection
  • Urine test to rule out other conditions, such as a bladder infection
  • Computerised tomography (CT) scan or an ultrasound scan to see if the appendix is swollen

Treatment: Laparoscopic Surgery

Appendectomy

An appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix. The procedure is performed to treat appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix caused by infection.

Types of Surgery or appendectomies for appendicitis

The appendix may be removed in one of two ways:
  • Laparoscopic method
  • Open method

Why Laparoscopic surgery is better over open surgery?

The laparoscopic being a minimally invasive approach has various advantages over the open technique.

  • The patient experiences less post-operative pain, recovers faster and has excellent cosmetic results.
  • Laparoscopically, the surgeon can examine the entire abdomen and pelvis through the camera to rule out any other pathology.
 

Advantages

  • Minimal postoperative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quick return to work and normal activities.
  • Excellent cosmetic results

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Some vital tests are required before surgery.
  • Follow your surgeon instructions for any prescribed medications.
  • The patient is not allowed to eat or drink anything when the surgery is planned.
  • The patient is kept under observation after the operation for 2-4 hours and then shifted to the room.
  • Patient is allowed to drink oral liquids sip by sip on the same day of surgery, and can have meals from the next day morning.
  • The patient is allowed to move and use the restroom on his own on the same day of the surgery.
  • Generally the patient is discharged on the next day of the surgery.
  • The dressings are removed during the first follow up visit which occurs within 2-5 days.
  • Regular follow up is advised.

Frequently Asked Question

Surgical removal of the appendix causes no observable health problems as it has no known and definite function in the human body.

Appendix is a small worm like structureattached to the cecum, the beginning of the colon, on the lower right side of the abdomen.

During first few year of the life appendix functions as part of the immune system, but after that it no longer has any known function.

Appendicitis is a sudden inflammation of the appendix.

There is no known way to prevent appendicitis. However, if you are able to recognize appendicitis symptoms, you can prevent serious appendicitis complications from occurring.

The most serious complication of appendicitis is an infection of the lining of your abdominal cavity (peritonitis). This may occur if your appendix ruptures (perforates) and the contents of your intestines and infectious organisms invade the peritoneal cavity. Peritonitis is a medical emergency.

  • Open appendectomy: The appendix is removed through an incision in the lower right abdomen.
  • Laparoscopic appendectomy: The appendix is removed with instruments placed into small abdominal incisions.
The main advantages are:
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Faster recovery
  • Short hospital stay
  • Less post-operative complications like wound infection and adhesion

The amount of pain is different for each person. The pain can be controlled with the help of pain control medications.

Generally, you can be discharged on the next day of the surgery.

In general, plan to take about one week off from work.

Mostly the procedure is covered under most medical insurance plans. Please confirm in your policy documents.

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