Laparoscopic Appendectomy

What is a Laparoscopic Appendectomy?

During a laparoscopic surgical procedure, small incisions of up to half an inch are made and plastic tubes called ports are placed through these incisions. The camera and the instruments are then introduced through the ports, which allow access to the inside of the patient. The camera transmits an image of the organs inside the abdomen onto a television monitor. The surgeon is not able to see directly into the patient without the traditional large incision. The video camera becomes a surgeon’s eyes in laparoscopy surgery, since the surgeon uses the image from the video camera positioned inside the patient’s body to perform the procedure. The surgeon removes the appendix with the instruments, so there is usually no need to make a large cut in the abdomen.

Why it is done?

Appendicitis is a sudden or chronic inflammation of the appendix. 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. It is thought that blockage of the opening of the appendix into the bowel by a hard, small stool fragment causes inflammation and infection of the appendix (appendicitis). The inflammation can cause infection, a blood clot, or rupture of the appendix. 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.

What to expect after surgery?

Patients will probably be able to get back to normal activities within a week's time, including driving, walking up stairs, light lifting and work. Activity is dependent on how the patient feels. Walking is encouraged. Patients can remove the dressings and shower the day after the operation. In general, recovery should be progressive, once the patient is at home. Most patients are fully recovered and may go back to work after seven to ten days. Often, this depends on the nature of your job since patients who perform manual labor or heavy lifting may require two to four weeks of recovery.

What are the risks of the surgery?

  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the wound, blood or abdomen
  • Damage to surrounding organs such as than the bladder, intestines, blood vessels or nerves
  • Difficulty in urination occur after surgery and a temporary catheter can be ordered in order to drain the bladder
  • Removal of normal appendix
  • Blood clot to the lungs
  • A leak at the edge of the colon where the appendix was removed

What are the alternatives to the surgery?

Appendectomies are usually carried out on an emergency basis to treat appendicitis. There are no alternatives, due to the serious consequence of not removing the inflamed appendix, which is a ruptured appendix and peritonitis, a life-threatening emergency.