Laparoscopic Appendicectomy Patient Education video
What is the appendix?
The appendix is an organ situated in the right lower abdomen and plays a role in body defence against infections.
When is a appendicectomy advisable?
Appendicectomy i.e. removal of the appendix may be advisable in patients who develop an inflammation of the organ. This is mostly performed as an emergency, though occasionally this can be performed in a semi-elective fashion. The appendix can be removed either at open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery.
Why should I undergo a laparoscopic appendicectomy?
There is less pain with an earlier return of bowel function. There is usually less bleeding than in open appendicectomy. Hospital stay is also shorter as opposed to after traditional open surgery.
What happens at the first appointment?
Your surgeon will initially take a history and examine you. He will also ensure that you are fit to undergo surgery and an anaesthetic. He may suggest an operation with / without further tests.
Minor inflammations of the appendix can sometimes be treated with antibiotics but usually hospital stay is longer. If you are willing to undergo surgery then he will agree with you a date for the procedure.
Admission for surgery
You must not eat any food from 6 hours before the operation. You are allowed to drink clear fluids, including tea and coffee without milk up to 3 hours before the operation. A nurse will admit you on the day of surgery. The surgeon and the anaesthetist will see you prior to your operation. They will confirm that you are willing to undergo surgery, all preparations are complete and it is safe to proceed with your operation. They will confirm that an appropriate facility is available for you to recover after surgery.
What happens during surgery?
The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and a small ‘telescope’ (laparoscope) is passed into your abdomen above the navel. Your abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas, to help see everything properly. Further 2 small cuts will be made in your abdomen to insert instruments to help with the operation. The surgeon will divide the blood supply of the appendix and remove the organ.
What happens in hospital after surgery?
You will be sent to the Ward after the procedure. You will be looked after by a nurse and offered appropriate pain-killers. You will be offered light food and drink. You will be prescribed oral painkillers with injections for back up. You may feel drowsy and develop constipation as a result of your painkillers - hence it is advisable that you drink plenty of fluids. You should be able to go home 1-3 days after your operation, depending on your home circumstances and your need for pain-killers. You will have a few small wound dressings which you can remove yourself after one week or a nurse / the surgeon can remove these at a subsequent visit.
Support available during early recuperation period after surgery
It is advisable to avoid strenuous physical activity for the first 2 weeks to allow proper healing of the wounds. It is usual for you to experience some initial pain in the wounds and in your abdominal wall - you may also experience minor discomfort in the shoulder. Most patients recover fully within 1-2 months. You will be given a number to ring for advice in case of difficulty.
Further follow up after surgery
You will be given an appointment to see the surgeon again - he will ensure that you are recovering as expected.
Will further surgery be needed?
This is usually not necessary, though rarely surgery may be required if you develop complications or the hernia recurs.