What Is Appendicitis?
Your side may hurt so much that you called your doctor. Or maybe you went straight to the hospital emergency room. If the symptoms came on quickly, you may have appendicitis. This is an infection of the appendix. Surgery can stop the infection and relieve your symptoms. Read on to learn more.
The appendix is a hollow structure about the size of your little finger. It opens off the colon (large bowel). The purpose of the appendix is unclear. But if it is blocked, it may become infected.
Pain and Other Symptoms
Symptoms tend to appear quickly, often over a day or two. Symptoms can include:
- Pain that starts in the center of your belly and moves to your lower right side
- Increased pain and pressure on your side when you walk
- Vomiting, nausea, or decreased appetite
- Fever or fatigue
- Chills and fever
The goal of appendectomy is to remove the appendix safely. In most cases, the surgery lasts from 30-60 minutes. If your appendix has burst, surgery may take longer.
You may receive fluids, antibiotics, and other medications through an IV (intravenous) line. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will give you general anesthesia just before your appendectomy. This keeps you pain-free and allows you to sleep during the surgery.
Reaching the Appendix
One of two techniques may be used to reach the appendix. Your surgeon will discuss which is best for you.
- Open surgery: One incision (about 2 to 3 inches long) is made in your lower right side. A bigger incision may be used if the appendix has burst.
- Laparoscopic surgery: From 2 to 4 small incisions are used. One is near your bellybutton. The others are elsewhere on your abdomen. A laparoscope, a thin tube with a camera attached, is inserted through one incision. The camera shows the inside of your abdomen on a monitor. This image helps guide the surgery. Surgical tools are inserted in the other incisions.