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What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis means inflammation of your appendix. When it is inflamed it causes pain and makes you feel unwell.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Surgery removes the inflamed appendix and allows infected pus to be washed out. The aim is to prevent the serious complications that appendicitis can cause.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Antibiotics can be used to treat inflammation or an abscess but only if you are well enough. If an abscess continues or if you become unwell even with antibiotics, you will need an operation.
What does the procedure involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes 1 to 2 hours. To begin, your surgeon will tie off the blood supply to your appendix, then stitch the base, and then remove it. If your appendix is not inflamed and there is no other obvious cause for the pain, your surgeon will usually remove your appendix anyway. The reason is that sometimes the inside of the appendix can be inflamed while the outside looks normal.
There are two surgeries that can be done in order to remove the appendix: the laparoscopic (keyhole) and open surgery.
Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery
Your surgeon may use keyhole surgery as this is associated with less pain, less scarring and a faster return to normal activities.
This type of operation is the same as the laparoscopic surgery, but it is performed through a larger cut on your lower abdomen.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.
General complications of any operation
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Developing a hernia in the scar
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
- Unsightly scarring of your skin
Specific complications of this operation
Keyhole surgery complications
- Damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
- Developing a hernia
- Surgical emphysema
- Incorrect diagnosis
- Developing an abscess within your abdomen
- Difficulty passing urine
- Continued bowel paralysis
- Developing a leak where your appendix has been cut off from your bowel
- Tissues can join together in an abnormal way
- Pylephlebitis, where infection spreads to your liver
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home 3 to 5 days after an operation for simple appendicitis. However, it’s about a week after an operation for a burst appendix. You should be able to return to work after about 2 to 4 weeks. Going back to work will depend on how much surgery you need and your type of work. However, regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising though, you will need to ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities after getting their appendix removed.