Appendicitis

Appendicitis is swelling (inflammation) of the appendix. The appendix is a small pouch attached to the beginning of your large intestine.

Appendix Removal Surgery (Appendectomy)

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of emergency abdominal surgery in the United States. It usually occurs when the appendix becomes blocked by feces, a foreign object, or rarely, a tumor.

Symptoms

The symptoms of appendicitis can vary. It can be hard to diagnose appendicitis in young children, the elderly, and women of childbearing age.

The first symptom one feels is often pain around the belly button.  The pain may be minor at first, but it becomes more sharp and severe. You may experience reduced appetite, and you may have nausea, vomiting, and a low fever. As the swelling in the appendix increases, the pain tends to move into your right lower abdomen. It focuses right above the appendix at a place called McBurney’s point. This most often occurs 12 to 24 hours after the illness starts.

If your appendix breaks open (ruptures), you may have less pain for a short time and you may feel better. However, once the lining of your abdominal cavity becomes swollen and infected (a condition called peritonitis), the pain gets worse and you become sicker. Your pain may be worse when you walk or cough. You may prefer to lie still because sudden movement causes pain.

Signs and tests

If you have appendicitis, your pain will increase when the doctor gently presses on your lower right belly area. If you have peritonitis, touching the belly area may cause a spasm of the muscles. A rectal exam may find tenderness on the right side of your rectum.

Treatment

Surgery – Removal of the appendix by surgery is the best treatment. It is usually performed by three small incisions in a Laparoscopic procedure.

Because the tests used to diagnose appendicitis are not perfect, sometimes the operation will show that your appendix is normal. In that case, Dr Hansen will still remove your appendix and explore the rest of your abdomen for other causes of your pain.

If a CT scan shows that you have an abscess from a ruptured appendix, you may be treated for infection. You will have your appendix removed after the infection and swelling have gone away.

Expectations

If your appendix is removed before it ruptures, you will likely get well very soon after surgery. Most of my patient are able to leave the hospital in a few hours. If your appendix ruptures before surgery, you will probably recover more slowly, and are more likely to develop an abscess or other complications and may need additional time in the hospital on IV antibiotics. Most people can return to work in 5-7 days to desk type functions.

Complications

Complications can include bleeding, abscesses, blockage of the intestine, infection inside the abdomen (peritonitis) and infection of the surgical wound
.