Appendicitis is the medical term for an inflammation and/or infection of the appendix which causes intense pain. An appendectomy is performed when the case is quite severe and during such an operation a part known as the vermiform appendix is removed. The appendix is a small organ with a similar shape to a finger and is approximately 10cm long and 8mm in diameter. Located on the lower right side of the abdomen, the appendix seems to have no useful function in the body and is considered a vestigial organ. An appendectomy is usually performed to prevent the appendix from rupturing, which would cause severe internal problems, since the appendix can damage other organs in the body and cause internal bleeding if it ruptures.
While mild cases of appendicitis are usually treated with antibiotics, severe cases generally require an appendectomy. There are two different types of surgery available: the normal open surgery and the more expensive laparoscopy. The latter involves a more complicated operation, but typically leaves a much smaller scar and requires less post-operative recovery time. However, they both achieve the same purpose, so the only concern is the cost.
An open surgery starts before entering the operating room. Antibiotics are taken by the patient to prevent sepsis; these antibiotics are either taken orally or intravenously via a drip. Once the patient is on the operating table, they are put under by means of anaesthesia, after which the incision is made. The incision is a few inches long and is usually located a short distance above the right hip bone, corresponding with the location of the base of the appendix. The abdominal muscles are cut along with the skin. Once the appendix has been properly identified, it is removed, along with any surrounding tissues that have become infected. The surgeon will clean the area and then suture the incision back up.
During a laparoscopic operation, the incision is very small. The surgeon uses smaller tools and a camera on a laparoscope to see what they are doing. The inside of the abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas to provide space for the surgeon to work. The appendix is then removed and the incision closed.
Recovery time for a laparoscopic surgery is, as mentioned above, a fair bit shorter than that of a normal surgery. The time required for the surgery to be performed will be shorter in the case of an unruptured appendix and the recovery time should be shorter too. Recovery time will naturally vary from patient to patient, taking anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. Patients are advised to limit the movement after surgery to allow time for the incision to fully heal.