Appendectomy

Also known as: appendix removal, surgical removal of the appendix.

What is appendicitis?

The appendix is a tube-shaped organ attached to the colon in the right lower part of the abdomen. When the appendix becomes blocked with stool or inflammation, an illness called appendicitis, most doctors recommend removal by a procedure known as appendectomy. Simple appendicitis—present in two thirds of children with the disease--is when the organ is only inflamed, but not burst open. Complicated appendicitis is when there is rupture, and the inflammation has spread throughout the abdomen (peritonitis) or has formed an abscess.


What happens during the procedure?

Most modern surgeons perform laparoscopy where a telescope and up to two other instruments are introduced through small wounds into the abdomen to remove the organ through the belly button. At Nicklaus Children’s we specialize in scarless appendectomy, using only one wound hidden in the navel. In rare cases where bleeding or inflammation in the area is too severe, the surgeon will make an incision in the right side of the abdomen and remove the appendix that way.


Is any special preparation needed?

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and therefore, oral intake is withheld while waiting for operation. Antibiotics will be ordered for the child to help control the infection.


What is the recovery like?

If the appendix is not already ruptured, the child can go home on the same day resuming gentle activities of daily living immediately. He or she usually returns to school in two to four days and resumes full activities in two weeks. If there is perforation at the time of operation, the patient will need antibiotics for 1 to 2 weeks after operation. These are continued by IV in the hospital until eating is back to normal, usually 2 to 4 days, and then the rest of the course is completed at home.


What are the risk factors?

If the appendix is not ruptured, the complication rate is less than 5% (1 in 20) while perforation leads to a 20% (1 in 5) complication rate. Most complications are infectious, redness in the wound or an abscess in the abdomen, although rarely others like bowel blockage, bleeding or organ injury can occur.


Reviewed by: Cathy Anne Burnweit, MD

This page was last updated on: 11/5/2018 12:14:06 PM

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December Patient of the Month: Charlie

After surviving a high-risk pregnancy with a set of twins, the Strombom’s were faced with yet another complication. Their third child, an unborn baby named Charlie, was diagnosed with a congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM) and underwent two in utero interventions to allow for a full and healthy gestation period. Once delivered, the LifeFlight team from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital was on stand-by to transport Charlie from West Palm Beach to Miami.