An acutely inflamed appendix must be surgically removed. There are two surgical procedures which can be used: an open operation or a laparoscopic operation. Nowadays, the laparoscopic method is usually preferred for uncomplicated inflammation.
During appendix surgery, approx. 10 cm of the appendix is removed. The reason for this procedure is acute inflammation of the appendix (appendicitis). This inflammation can break through the appendix and spread to the entire abdomen. If this happens, it is known as a "burst" appendix. An acutely inflamed appendix must be operated on as quickly as possible to prevent this life-threatening situation.
What preparations are carried out before the procedure?
The diagnosis of acute inflammation of the appendix is made based on a targeted examination of the abdomen, supported by laboratory examinations and an ultrasound examination.
All the usual pre-operative assessments are required, such as a blood test, blood pressure measurement and an ECG.
Appendix surgery is performed under general anaesthetic. Patients must have an empty stomach for the procedure. As inflammation of the appendix usually occurs in an acute stage, it is also often an emergency operation which cannot be planned in advance.
How is the operation carried out?
There are basically two surgical procedures to remove an inflamed appendix. An open operation and a minimally invasive laparoscopic operation (keyhole technique). During the open operation, the abdomen is opened with an approx. 6 cm long incision in the right part of the lower stomach. The appendix, which is located at the tip of the colon, is then ligated and detached. The small stump of the detached appendix is sutured with what is known as a tobacco pouch suture to the colon.
Nowadays, the open operation is only rarely used. The appendix is usually removed laparoscopically. This minimally invasive method involves inserting a video camera and surgical instruments into the abdomen via several small incisions in the skin. The appendix is then exposed and removed under camera view, as in the open operation.
What is the success rate of this procedure?
The disease is eliminated with the removal of the appendix. The success rates of appendix surgery are therefore very good.
What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?
Appendix surgery is a low-risk procedure. As with all surgery, the operation may occasionally lead to post-operative bleeding, nerve damage or infections. If a patients has a burst appendix with peritonitis, the risk of infection is considerably higher. Sometimes growths appear after the surgery which can lead to complaints many years later.
What happens after the operation?
After the surgery, the patient wakes up in the recovery room. The drainage tubes are usually removed in two or three days. You can usually stand up on the same day and start eating again the following day. Patients who undergo this operation must usually stay in hospital for two to four days. They should avoid major physical exertion for six to eight weeks after the operation. After suffering a burst appendix, the patient must take antibiotics for several days.