An appendicectomy or appendectomy is a procedure to remove an inflamed appendix. The surgery aims to prevent the serious complications that can arise if your appendix bursts.
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What does the appendix do?
The appendix is a small pouch connected to your large intestine on the right-hand side of your abdomen. While the exact function of the appendix within the body remains unknown, removing it doesn’t cause any long-term issues.
What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
Appendicitis is an inflamed appendix. It causes pain in the abdomen, which may start in the centre but often moves to where the appendix is. It may start as a pain that comes and goes but can develop into an intense and constant pain within a few hours.
Other symptoms of appendicitis can include nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, lack of appetite and a high temperature.
How is your appendicitis diagnosed?
Appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose because not everyone presents with the typical symptoms. In addition, some patients present with pain near the appendix, but it is caused by something else.
Your appendicectomy questions answered
You may be able to treat an inflamed appendix using antibiotics. However, if you continue to feel unwell, you will need an operation to remove the appendix so that it can’t rupture. A ruptured appendix can cause infection to spread and risks life-threatening peritonitis (infection of the abdomen) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).
Our team will make sure you are fully prepared ahead of your operation, outlining what to expect from the surgery and your recovery and whether you need to take any action, such as not eating on the day of the procedure. You may also need to arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital.
An appendicectomy can be performed through keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) or open surgery. Both surgeries are performed under general anaesthetic.
Laparoscopy involves inserting a small camera and special instruments through small incisions in the abdomen. It is a minimally invasive approach which can help to reduce scarring and enable a faster recovery.
An open procedure involves making a larger cut to the abdomen to access the internal organs. Your consultant will explain which type of procedure is most suitable for you.
This depends on the type of procedure you have had and whether the appendix was inflamed or had burst before your surgery. For example, after keyhole surgery, you may be able to go home within a few days, whereas if the appendix has burst, you may require a longer hospital stay to make sure the infection has cleared.
Most patients can return to work 2 to 4 weeks after surgery, but this depends on the type of surgery you have had and the work that you do.
Exercise supports a healthy recovery, but it’s important to seek advice on what will be safe to do. Our team is here to support you and can answer any questions you might have.
All surgery has risks, some of which can be serious and even life-threatening. These can include pain, bleeding, infection, developing hernias, blood clots and scarring. While laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive, risks can include damage to internal structures (e.g. bowel) and the presence of gas in soft tissues (surgical emphysema).
There may also be risks of complications after surgery. These can include developing an abscess, continued paralysis of the bowel, developing a leak at the surgical site or tissues joining incorrectly, difficulty passing urine or an infection which spreads to the liver. There is also the risk that the diagnosis was incorrect and that your symptoms continue.
There may be risks not listed above. Your consultant will understand your patient history and will discuss the risks with you ahead of surgery. It’s important to remember that there are risks involved with not removing an inflamed appendix, which can be life-threatening if it bursts.
Booking an appointment at Sulis Hospital General Surgery Unit means getting seen by a specialist and experienced consultant. You’ll also benefit from a timely appointment, with fast access to diagnostics and treatment.
If you do need surgery, you will be welcomed into a clean, modern hospital that invests in the latest treatments, diagnostic technologies and ways of working. We deliver an exceptional standard of care, which is why patients travel from all over the UK to have their surgery with us.
Combining a calming hospital environment with outstanding patient care so you can recover as quickly as possible.
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Can I pay privately? Yes
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Talk to the experts
Mr Marc Bullock
Consultant General & Colorectal SurgeonView profile
Miss Sarah Richards
Consultant Laparoscopic and General SurgeonView profile
Mr Mike Williamson
Consultant General and Colorectal SurgeonView profile
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