Understanding Appendicitis:  Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery

May 14, 2024 | Uncategorized

In the United States, there are approximately 100,000 to 300,000 cases each year requiring such evaluation and treatment as deemed necessary.  Appendicitis can occur at any age including children and older adults.  However, is most common among people aged 10 to 30 years old. At Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors, it is not uncommon for our surgeons to be asked to evaluate someone who may have appendicitis.

What is appendicitis and its symptoms?

Appendicitis is a medical emergency that occurs when your appendix becomes inflamed and/or infected. This condition can be painful and is potentially life-threatening if not treated promptly.

One of the most common treatments for appendicitis is an appendectomy, which is a surgical procedure to remove the inflamed appendix. So, how do you know if you have appendicitis?

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of appendicitis is important for timely diagnosis and treatment. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain: The pain often starts near the navel and then moves to the lower right side of the abdomen.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Swelling or tenderness in your abdomen
  • And, Difficulty passing gas

If you experience these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. A delay in treatment can lead to complications such as a ruptured appendix, which can be potentially life-threatening.

How do you know if your appendix needs to be removed?

Removal of your appendix is called an appendectomy. This surgery is typically necessary for 3 main reasons:

  1. Acute Appendicitis Diagnosis: If you are diagnosed with acute appendicitis based on physical examination, blood tests, and imaging studies such as ultrasound or CT scan, surgery is usually recommended.
  2. Ruptured Appendix: If your appendix has ruptured, immediate surgical intervention is necessary to remove the infected tissue and prevent further complications like peritonitis which is inflammation of your abdominal lining.
  3. Recurrent Episodes: Some people may experience recurrent episodes of appendicitis. In such cases, your doctor may recommend removing your appendix to prevent future episodes.

If you experience symptoms or are diagnosed with any of these conditions, consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

How is an appendectomy performed and what should you expect after surgery?

Your appendix is a pinky size appendage near the juncture of your large and small intestine.  It has long been thought it serves no real purpose but some studies show that it may be a place for storing good bacteria, helping to break down the food you eat, and warding off the growth of ‘bad bacteria’.  Nonetheless, it is an organ that doesn’t cause a problem for you if surgical removal is required. This surgery is called an appendectomy.

If it is determined that you need to have your appendix removed, this will be done by  a surgeon.  You may wonder how the surgery is typically performed.  An appendectomy is performed using two main techniques:

  1. Laparoscopic Appendectomy: This minimally invasive procedure involves making small incisions in  your abdomen and inserting a laparoscope (a thin tube with a camera) and surgical instruments to remove your appendix. Recovery time is usually shorter compared to an open surgical procedure.
  2. Open Appendectomy: In this procedure, a larger incision is made in the lower right side of your abdomen to remove the inflamed appendix. This method may be necessary if there are complications or if laparoscopic surgery is not feasible.

After the appendectomy, most patients can expect to stay in the hospital for a day or two for observation. You may experience some pain and discomfort, but it can be managed with pain medication. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for post-operative care, which will commonly include:

  • Rest: Allow your body to heal by getting plenty of rest.
  • Pain management: Take prescribed pain medication as directed.
  • Diet: Start with clear liquids and gradually progress to solid foods as tolerated.
  • Activity: Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for a few weeks.

An appendectomy is a common and effective treatment for appendicitis. It is necessary when there is a diagnosis of appendicitis, a ruptured appendix, recurrent episodes of appendicitis, or complications. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to successful recovery and reducing the risk of complications. If you experience symptoms of appendicitis, seek medical attention immediately to determine the best course of treatment for you.

If you have additional questions or desire a non-urgent consult, feel free to reach out to our experienced team at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors.