Appendix Surgery (Appendectomy)
What is the Appendix?
The appendix is a three to six inch long tubular structure that is attached in the area of the junction of the large and small intestines. The appendix has no known function. Once the appendix becomes inflamed, it must be removed. The appendix may vary in its location in the abdomen and its relationship to other parts of the intestinal tract. This variation accounts in part for the variety of symptoms that can make diagnosis a challenge.
What is Appendicitis?
Obstruction of the appendix by fecal matter or some other cause can lead to inflammation called appendicitis. Appendicitis usually develops rapidly with little warning over the course of six to twelve hours. Appendicitis pain can be severe and symptoms of appendicitis should never be ignored as the widespread infection resulting from a ruptured appendix can be life threatening.
Severe abdominal pain typically occurs with appendicitis. Characteristics of this pain can include:
- Radiating from the belly button area to the lower abdomen’s right-hand side
- Starting in the lower right abdomen
- Increasing in severity
- Worsening with sneezing, coughing, breathing deeply, moving or being touched
Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Fever in combination with chills
- Trapped gas
- Swelling in the abdomen.
If you experience symptoms of appendicitis, seek medical care immediately.
Surgical Treatment of Appendicitis
Appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix. Our Lady of the Lake provides both open surgery and the minimally invasive appendectomy for qualified patients. During open surgery, doctors make a three to five inch incision on the abdomen to remove the appendix.
A laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, appendectomy uses three small incisions (1 inch) and specialized tools to perform the surgery with reduced trauma to the body and risks to the patient. A camera is inserted through one of the incisions and is used to view the interior of the abdominal cavity. The surgeon can perform the appendectomy while viewing the image displayed on the TV monitor. Surgical instruments are placed through two other small incisions and the appendix is removed.