The appendix is a narrow, small, finger-shaped portion of the large intestine that generally hangs down from the lower right side of the abdomen.
Although the appendix does not seem to serve any purpose, it can become diseased and, if untreated, can burst, causing infection and even death. The cause of appendicitis is usually unknown. Appendicitis may occur after a viral infection in the digestive tract or when the tube connecting the large intestine and appendix is blocked or trapped by stool. The infected appendix then must be surgically removed (emergency appendectomy) before a hole develops in the appendix and spreads the infection to the entire abdominal space.
If you have these symptoms, see a doctor immediately! Because of the risk of rupture, which may happen as soon as 48 to 72 hours after symptoms begin, appendicitis is considered an emergency.
The laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgical technique involves making several tiny cuts in the abdomen and inserting a miniature camera and surgical instruments. As many as three or four incisions are made. The surgeon then removes the appendix with the instruments, so there is usually no need to make a large incision in the abdomen. The camera projects a magnified image of the area onto a television monitor which helps guide the surgeons as they remove the appendix.
In most cases, patients can be discharged within 24 to 36 hours. By contrast, the hospital stay is typically two to five days for an open procedure.
No. Patients with cardiac diseases and COPD would not be good candidates for laparoscopic appendectomy. In addition, laparoscopic appendectomy is not recommended for those with pre-existing disease conditions. Laparoscopic appendectomy may also be more difficult in patients who have had previous lower abdominal surgery and for obese patients. The elderly may also be at increased risk for complications with general anesthesia. We evaluate every patient to determine the appropriate type of surgery to perform.