The appendix is a small, tube-like structure attached to the first part of the large intestine, also called the colon. The appendix is located in the lower right portion of the abdomen. It has no known function. Removal of the appendix appears to cause no change in digestive function.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. Once it starts, there is no effective medical therapy, so appendicitis is considered a medical emergency. When treated promptly, most patients recover without difficulty. If treatment is delayed, the appendix can burst, causing infection and even death (I learned this the hard way). Appendicitis is the most common acute surgical emergency of the abdomen. Anyone can get appendicitis, but it occurs most often between the ages of 10 and 30.
The most serious complication of appendicitis is rupture, which can lead to peritonitis and abscess (this is what happened to me).
Acute appendicitis is treated by surgery to remove the appendix. The operation may be performed through a standard small incision in the right lower part of the abdomen, or it may be performed using a laparoscope (this is what i'm getting!), which requires three to four smaller incisions. If other conditions are suspected in addition to appendicitis, they may be identified using laparoscopy. In some patients, laparoscopy is preferable to open surgery because the incision is smaller, recovery time is quicker, and less pain medication is required. The appendix is almost always removed, even if it is found to be normal. With complete removal, any later episodes of pain will not be attributed to appendicitis.
Recovery from appendectomy takes a few weeks. Doctors usually prescribe pain medication and ask patients to limit physical activity. Recovery from laparoscopic appendectomy is generally faster, but limiting strenuous activity may still be necessary for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Most people treated for appendicitis recover excellently and rarely need to make any changes in their diet, exercise, or lifestyle.
the actual surgery
During laparoscopic surgery, you will be given:
intravenous (IV) fluids
local anesthesia - numbs only the areas involved in the surgery
general anesthesia - makes you sleep during the surgery
a sedative (possibly)
The surgeon will cut a small opening in the abdomen. The location of this incision varies depending on the procedure, and is either near the navel or in the lower abdomen for pelvic conditions.
A needle will be inserted, and used to inject carbon dioxide gas into the abdomen. This gas will cause the abdominal cavity to expand and will make it easier for the doctor to see the internal structures. The doctor will then insert a long, thin tubular instrument (laparoscope) that lights, magnifies, and projects an image of the internal organs onto a video screen. The internal organs will be inspected.
f necessary, several other tiny incisions
may be made in the abdomen through which to insert instruments that can take biopsies or perform various types of surgery (such as removal of an organ). After the laparoscope and any other tools are removed, the incisions will be closed with stitches or clips and covered with a dressing.