The vestigial organ, appendix, is present in the lower abdomen, attached to the large intestine. Bacteria easily attacks the appendix when it is in an inflamed state (i.e., when there’s appendicitis). This leads to pus formation, resulting in unbearable pain.
This swollen appendix breeding bacteria requires immediate treatment. That’s because a delay in the process can be highly dangerous. It can burst, leading to bacteria release in the blood stream and causing a life-threatening infection. Also, surgical removal of the appendix is best because the organ carries no substantial function.
How is appendicitis diagnosed?
For appendicitis diagnosis, the doctor uses the following tests and procedures:
- Physical examination to assess the pain: Here, the doctor applies some pressure on the painful region. As he releases it, the appendicitis pain should worsen. This signals inflammation in that particular area. Besides, the doctor may also look for some abdominal rigidity, or your tendency to stiffen the abdominal muscles as a response to pressure on the inflamed appendix.
- Blood Test: Blood test helps check the WBC count. High white blood cell count is an indication of an infection.
- Urine Test: Here, urinalysis ensures that the pain is not because of some UTI (urinary tract infection) or some kidney stone.
- Imaging Tests: This includes an abdominal X-ray and an abdominal ultrasound. For appendicitis diagnosis CT scan (computerized tomography) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done to confirm the disease and to find other causes for the pain. These tests also show the signs of inflammation, blockage and organ rupture.
What is the treatment for appendicitis?
Generally, appendicitis requires surgery for treatment. Prior to the surgery, you may be given some medication for treating infection. In some cases, the patient gets better with medication alone.
Now, appendicitis needs surgery within a few hours to prevent it from bursting. It prevents the appendix from rupture if it has not yet ruptured. There are two surgical procedures available:
- Open appendectomy: It involves making a large cut to remove the appendix. It is followed by cleaning of the wound and closing of the incisions or cuts with stitches. Open procedure for appendicitis treatment is suitable when the appendix has some perforation or if the patient had already had abdominal surgery.
- Laparoscopic appendectomy: It involves just 2-3 small abdominal incisions for appendix removal. The doctor inserts an instrument (thin tube) with an attached camera to get a good view of the abdomen from the inside. S/he may also insert other surgical instruments through the surgical cuts. Finally, the surgeon closes the incisions with surgical glue.
In both the procedures, stitches are used to tie the appendix, detach it from the intestine and finally remove it. Incisions serve as the passageway for excess fluids and gases. If there had been peritonitis, your doctor may leave a drainage tube in the abdomen for continued drainage of fluids and remove it later.
Advantages of laparoscopic appendectomy over the open procedure
- Smaller incisions, minimal scarring
- Short surgery time
- Short hospital stay
- Less post-operative pain
- Quick recovery
- Fewer complications
- Better cosmetic results
- Better for obese people and older adults
However, the laparoscopic way may not be suitable for all. In case the appendix is ruptured, the infection has spread beyond your appendix, or when there’s an abscess, the open procedure may be more appropriate. This is because it lets the surgeon clean the abdominal cavity of all bacteria.
What is the Recovery time for appendicitis after surgery?
You’ll need to stay in the hospital for a day or 2 after the surgery. It actually depends upon the surgery type and on whether the appendix had burst or not.
Here is a list of some do’s and don’ts after appendectomy:
- Keep the incision dry. Also keep it clean to prevent infection.
- Eat soft foods in the beginning.
- Limit physical activity, as standing too long after open surgery may cause pain in the abdominal muscles.
- Contact your doctor in case of any strange symptoms (such as constipation, intense pain in the lower right abdomen, fever, infection at the incision area, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps).
- Take enough rest and support the abdomen when coughing/laughing/moving.
- Do not take medication not approved by the doctor.
- Don’t bathe until as directed. No swimming until the removal of stitches.
- Do not strain the abdominal muscles. You may avoid climbing stairs or lifting heavy objects.
- However, also don’t be completely sedentary. It is important to prevent blood clots and keep running the digestive system well by getting up and walking around.
Finally, 6 weeks post-surgery, you can get back to your normal activities.
We at Medfin, the Surgery expert team, offer you access to the latest and advanced treatment for Appendicitis at most affordable costs. Our Personal Medfin assistants answer all your concerns related to surgery and ensure that your needs are met in your entire medical journey.
To consult an expert Medfin surgeon near you, please call us on 7026200200. You can also WhatsApp us on 7406557599 (click here to initiate a whatsapp chat).