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Appendicitisis the medical term for an inflammation and/or infection of theappendix which causes intense pain. An appendectomy is performed whenthe case is quite severe and during such an operation a part known asthe vermiform appendix is removed. The appendix is a small organ witha similar shape to a finger and is approximately 10cm long and 8mm indiameter. Located on the lower right side of the abdomen, theappendix seems to have no useful function in the body and isconsidered a vestigial organ. An appendectomy is usually performed toprevent the appendix from rupturing, which would cause severeinternal problems, since the appendix can damage other organs in thebody and cause internal bleeding if it ruptures.


Whilemild cases of appendicitis are usually treated with antibiotics,severe cases generally require an appendectomy. There are twodifferent types of surgery available: the normal open surgery and themore expensive laparoscopy. The latter involves a more complicatedoperation, but typically leaves a much smaller scar and requires lesspost-operative recovery time. However, they both achieve the samepurpose, so the only concern is the cost.

Anopen surgery starts before entering the operating room. Antibioticsare taken by the patient to prevent sepsis; these antibiotics areeither taken orally or intravenously via a drip. Once the patient ison the operating table, they are put under by means of anaesthesia,after which the incision is made. The incision is a few inches longand is usually located a short distance above the right hip bone,corresponding with the location of the base of the appendix. Theabdominal muscles are cut along with the skin. Once the appendix hasbeen properly identified, it is removed, along with any surroundingtissues that have become infected. The surgeon will clean the areaand then suture the incision back up.

Duringa laparoscopic operation, the incision is very small. The surgeonuses smaller tools and a camera on a laparoscope to see what they aredoing. The inside of the abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas toprovide space for the surgeon to work. The appendix is then removedand the incision closed.


Recoverytime for a laparoscopic surgery is, as mentioned above, a fair bitshorter than that of a normal surgery. The time required for thesurgery to be performed will be shorter in the case of an unrupturedappendix and the recovery time should be shorter too. Recovery timewill naturally vary from patient to patient, taking anywhere betweena few days to a few weeks. Patients are advised to limit the movementafter surgery to allow time for the incision to fully heal.

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