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Your appendix is a small sac attached to your main bowl on the lower right side of your abdomen (stomach). It really has no function but sometimes your appendix can become inflamed (swollen) causing you pain and making you feel unwell. This irritation is called appendicitis.

Patients who present with the symptoms of appendicitis may have a blood test, an ultrasound scan or x-ray.

It is important that an appendicectomy be performed as soon as possible to avoid your appendix becoming more inflamed or perforated (burst) causing infection (peritonitis).

What happens during an appendicectomy?

An appendicectomy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes between half an hour and an hour. Your surgeon will remove the appendix either by using the laparoscopic (‘keyhole’) technique or by an open incision (cut) in the lower abdomen.

During a laparoscopic appendicectomy your surgeon will use a thin tube with a camera attached to inspect the inside of your abdomen through a small incision. Once your appendix is found they will remove it using other instruments passed through other small incisions. They will close the incisions with stitches or staples.

An open appendicectomy is performed using one incision in your abdomen.

After an appendicectomy

If your appendix is not perforated you may be able to go home after one to two days.

Patients with a perforated appendix may need a longer hospital stay and treatment with antibiotics.

You should be able to return to normal activities within four weeks after your procedure. Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon. 

Most patients make a quick recovery from an appendicectomy. Any surgical procedure can result in complications:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots

Specific complications of appendicectomy:

  • Incorrect diagnosis
  • Developing an abscess
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Vomiting
  • Developing a leak
  • Obstruction of the bowel
  • Pylephlebitis (inflammation of the portal vein which goes to the liver)
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