Appendix, Appendicitis and Appendectomy –Commonly Asked Questions
Appendectomy is a commonly performed surgery. Find answers to some of the commonly asked questions on appendix, appendicitis, appendectomy.
Appendicitis is a condition where the appendix gets inflamed and filled with pus. This causes fever and severe pain near the belly button. If left untreated, the pain may cause discomfort and move toward the lower-right side of the abdomen.
What is the appendix? An appendix is a small pouch attached to the start of the large intestine, where stools form. It is known not to serve any purpose, and removing it has no impact on your health.
When the appendix gets inflamed or filled with pus, causing severe pain (appendicitis), a doctor will recommend removing it. Symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, chills, and pain toward the belly button that extends to the lower abdomen.
This condition is usually treated with surgery that needs to be done within 24 hours of its diagnosis. Untreated appendicitis can cause infection in the bloodstream (sepsis) and pus formation.
There are two types of appendicitis, namely ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’. Here’s what you need to know.
Acute appendicitis is commonly found among male children and young adults aged 10 to 30. The pain drastically increases within 24 hours, and this type requires immediate medical treatment. It is the most commonly found type of appendicitis and less alarming than chronic appendicitis.
Chronic appendicitis is a rare type and is hard to diagnose because its symptoms show up mild similar to acute appendicitis. Symptoms include pain that can last for months, or even years and can go unnoticed. Consult your doctor for better insight into this type of appendicitis.
The exact cause of appendicitis is still being studied. Most experts believe this condition is usually caused by a blockage in the appendix, also known as obstruction.
How does it feel when your appendix is blocked? You may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble passing gas, and a loss of appetite. These are signs of a blocked appendix. How does a block in your appendix happen? Here are several circumstances that can obstruct your appendix.
Other than a blocked appendix, other factors that cause appendicitis are as follows
Appendicitis symptoms can vary and be difficult to detect among young children and older people.
Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of appendicitis. The pain may start around the belly button and move towards the lower right side of the abdomen. Sometimes the pain will fade and return with a pinching feeling. You may feel terrible moving, coughing, taking deep breaths, sneezing, or even being touched.
These symptoms may go unnoticed as they suddenly show up or don’t. You need to watch out for these symptoms, as the pain could progress quickly in 12 to 24 hours.
Appendicitis can worsen as you walk, cough, or make sudden movements. The most noticeable symptoms of appendicitis occur when the condition has progressed. Here are some symptoms of progressed appendicitis.
A doctor may suspect appendicitis based on the symptoms you describe. However, a physical examination, CT scan, and ultrasound scan of the abdomen will be conducted to diagnose your condition. Here is what a doctor will do to diagnose your condition.
Surgery performed to treat appendicitis or remove the appendix is called an appendectomy. This surgical procedure involves three different procedures, namely:
A small incision is made in the lower-right side of the belly, and the surgeon removes the appendix. If the appendix bursts, a small tube is inserted to drain pus and other infected fluids in the belly.
In this surgical procedure, several small incisions are made, and a surgical device with a 2D camera on its tip is inserted into the belly and projects the inside onto a TV monitor. The surgeon uses this device to drain out pus if the appendix has burst or remove the appendix as a whole.
Similar to a laparoscopic appendectomy, a robotic appendectomy surgery to treat or remove the appendix is done with tiny incisions, inserting a laparoscope with a 3D camera, but the surgeon controls the surgical device from a control room. This avoids the risk of infection and is faster than other surgical procedures.
If the appendix has ruptured or burst, you may develop an abscess, a painful pus collection. A surgeon will drain the abscess by inserting a tube through your abdominal wall. This tube is left in place for about two weeks to drain, and your doctor will put you on antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
In some cases where the appendix ruptures, you may need a major abdominal surgery called a laparotomy. In rare cases, mild appendicitis may get better with antibiotics alone. But in most cases, you will need surgery to remove your appendix.
For the first few days post-appendectomy, you may feel pain and bruise, which is normal and reduces with time. You will be given painkillers to fight the pain.
If you’ve had laparoscopic or robotic appendix surgery, you may feel pain on the tip of your shoulder that will go away in a week. If you’ve had laparoscopic surgery for your appendix, you can return to work anytime within 1 to 3 weeks.
If appendicitis is left untreated, it can cause a rupture or an appendix burst. A burst could symbolize the threat of an infection that could turn out to be fatal. Some complications of untreated appendicitis include
Also known as a pocket of infectious pus that needs to be removed. Your doctor will place drain tubes in your abdomen to remove the pus before appendix surgery. These tubes will be inserted for over a week, and you will be put on antibiotics to fight infection. Appendix surgery will be done only after an abscess is completely drained.
Bacteria from an appendix rupture can get into your bloodstream and cause sepsis. Sepsis causes widespread inflammation of many of your organs, and your condition can turn out to be fatal. If you have sepsis due to untreated appendicitis, you will need an immediate hospital stay and medical treatment.
If appendicitis is left untreated, it can cause peritonitis, which is an abdominal infection that spreads throughout your abdomen. This is a serious infection and requires a major abdominal surgery called a laparotomy to remove the ruptured appendix.
Medically speaking, there are ongoing studies to understand preventive measures for appendicitis. However, one point to note is that eating high-fiber foods can reduce your risk of developing appendicitis. High-fiber foods include
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Appendicitis can resolve on its own without any treatment. If symptoms seem to progress, it is recommended to consult a doctor at the earliest.
Yes, appendicitis can occur at any age and it is important to treat it urgently, as it can rupture and become dangerous.
A blood test is done to check for signs of infection. If there is a high white blood cell count found, it could indicate signs of an infection. However, other imaging tests like an ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI are done to diagnose appendicitis.
Yes, it is seen as acute appendicitis and is mistaken as a common discomfort during pregnancy. Hence prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial as it may lead to complications like miscarriages.
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