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Appendectomy (Removal of Appendix)

Underlying Problem Requiring an Appendectomy:
The removal of the appendix is almost always an emergency procedure made necessary by a case of acute appendicitis. This is recognized by extreme pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. The pain is caused by an inflammation of the organ that, left untreated, can cause it to burst. An appendectomy may be done at the onset of symptoms to avoid this outcome, or after the rupture has taken place. In either case, the removal of the appendix is considered necessary to avoid sepsis.

While surgery is the most recognized treatment of appendicitis, it is not the only option. Doctors have begun to realize that treatment with intravenous antibiotics can be used to avoid sepsis and to allow the situation to resolve itself. Recent discoveries about the organ have led to less prophylactic appendectomy surgeries. Where the removal of the appendix was often done as an add-on to other abdominal surgeries, many doctors now prefer to leave it intact.

When an appendectomy is performed, it is often laparoscopically. This minimally invasive procedure requires a much smaller incision, and therefore less pain and recovery. The scar may also be hidden in the umbilicus or the pubic hair. A balloon is used to fill the abdomen with gas in order to give the surgeon room to work.

An open appendectomy refers to the removal of the appendix without laparoscopy. In this procedure, a patient will usually be given a round of intravenous antibiotics, followed by general anesthesia. He or she will be intubated, lying on his or her back. An incision is made one-third of the way from the anterior superior iliac spine and the umbilicus, on what is called McBurney\'s point. The doctor will then cut through the layers of the abdominal wall, working to ensure that the incisions will not result in a post-operative incisional hernia. Next comes the actual removal of the appendix, followed by the closure of the abdominal wall.

Recovery from an Appendectomy:
The recovery time from an appendectomy will depend on several factors. In the case of an open appendectomy, it may take up to three weeks for the patient to return to a normal level of activity. Oftentimes, those who have had laparoscopic surgery can recover in as little as a few days. Scars and bruising should both be expected.

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