What is an appendicectomy?
An appendicectomy is a surgical procedure which involves the removal of the appendix. The appendix is a thin tube that is attached to the large intestine. It is usually located on the lower right side of the abdomen. The precise function of the appendix in the human body is still unclear, however, life without the appendix continues normally.
Why do I need an appendicectomy?
Appendicectomies are usually performed due to appendicitis. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked or inflamed, which is usually the result of food or faecal matter becoming lodged. Appendicitis is treated as a surgical emergency. If the appendix bursts the infected contents can spread throughout the abdominal cavity and be potentially life threatening.
What happens during an appendicectomy?
Your surgeon can perform an appendicectomy using a laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) approach. Rarely will an open approach be needed. Your surgeon will talk to you about which is the best option for you.
During keyhole surgery you will have three small incisions and the surgery will be conducted using a laparoscope. This is a thin tube containing a video camera and a light. During a laparoscopic appendectomy images of your appendix are transmitted to a monitor and your surgeon conducts the surgery using thin surgical tools.
During open surgery, a single incision of around 3 to 5 centimetres will be made in your abdomen. This will provide the surgeon with direct access to your appendix. This technique is used if the laparoscopic approach is not possible.
Expect to spend one or two nights in hospital after your appendicectomy.
Risks and potential complications of appendicectomy
Risk and potential complications from an appendicectomy include:
- Abscess within the abdominal cavity
- Blocked bowels
- Injury to nearby organs
What is the cost of an appendicectomy?
An appendicectomy is usually performed due to appendicitis. Appendicitis is treated as a surgical emergency and therefore can occur in both public and private hospitals. A portion of the cost for your surgery may be covered by your private health insurance and you should discuss this with your provider.
Please contact the Sydney GI Surgery team to discuss your needs and for an accurate assessment of the cost involved.
Recovery from an appendicectomy
You should expect to spend at least one or two days in hospital after your appendicectomy. It will take you one week to fully recover from your surgery and you will need to take things easy for two weeks.
Your surgeon will talk to you about how to best care for yourself following your appendicectomy. In general, you will need to:
- Avoid strenuous activity
- Support your abdomen when you cough or sneeze
- Contact your doctor if your pain medications aren’t working
- Move around and take short walks as soon as you are ready
Your surgeon will also talk to you about returning to work.