When the appendix experiences an infection, it becomes swollen and causes a lot of pain. It is necessary to undergo a surgical operation to remove this appendix that causes the discomfort. Functions of this organ called the appendix are not very clear, it is vestigial and, as such, its removal is not seen as losing anything that is worth keeping.
This infection of the appendix is known as "appendicitis". It should be taken with high amount of caution as it is considered an emergency which could easily result in loss of dear life. If left without treatment, the appendix may burst open releasing its contents which contain the infection. This bursting usually takes place less than 24 hours after the symptoms start showing on the patient. But what are these signs and symptoms? Briefly, let us take a quick look at the classic signs and symptoms of appendicitis.
Signs and Symptom of appendicitis:
- Swelling on the abdominal regions
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Passing out gas becomes a challenge (farting)
- Increase in normal body temperature
- A dull pain is experienced on area near the belly button that increases in intensity as it moves towards the location of the appendix. That is the lower right abdomen
- Vomiting sets in following the pain to the abdomen
Complications during the appendectomy procedure are very minimal since it is a common procedure. If the diagnosis of the appendicitis is made early enough and required treatment undergone, most people recover with very less challenges.
Challenges that may occur during an appendectomy
1. Infection to the wound
This infection can cause a lot of challenge when it occurs. Near the area where the surgical cut was made, the skin becomes reddish and pus may start oozing from the incision.
When such a complication occurs to the patient, the patient is prescribed antibiotics and his or her stay at the hospital before being clear for discharging, may be extended. This however depends on how severe the infection is. In extreme occasions, the wound must be opened again in order to drain the pus.
2. Paralytic Ileus
This is a condition whereby the motion of the bowel comes to a stop. It is common where the appendix has perforations. In normal body health, the bowel is always in motion absorbing nutrients after digesting food. The bowel is a very sensitive organ and any slight interference with it may cause its normal behavior to stop. This is sometimes the case where contact is made with the bowel by the surgeon’s activities during appendectomy sessions.
When this happens, a nasogastric tube is introduced through the nasal cavity into the stomach in order to stop the distension.
During this time, the patient should not feed on or drink anything through the mouth. Fluids may be taken intravenously. The tube is removed once the functioning of the bowel return to normal. Restoring of normal conditions of the bowel is displayed by the bowel movements or passing gas.
The appendectomy procedure begins from the preparations before the surgery to a short period after surgery. This is largely as a result of it being an emergency surgery in most cases.
Preparations for the Surgery
Before the appendectomy, a background check is done on the patient. The following aspects of the background are looked into:
- Previous illness or medical conditions
- Whether the patient is currently on any medication
An identification bracket is given to the patient especially where it is a child or a tag for adults. Immediately, you are then asked to change into the hospital gown as you wait for surgery in the emergency room of the hospital.
It is during this wait time that vital signs are monitored by nurses. These vital signs include:
- Blood pressure
- Heart beat rate
Depending on how long ago the patient had eaten or drunk anything, your wait time for the surgery may be longer.
Starting an Intravenous Injection
An intravenous line, abbreviated as IV, is established before the surgery by a nurse. This is usually the case when it comes to patients who are children. A needle is introduced into the arm on which a small tube is connected to the IV tubing.
This IV tubing is further connected to a bag that contains mixture of fluids and medicines to prevent the infection from worsening. The substances in the bag then flow into the bloodstream of the patient through the connection and skin.
Meeting with the Surgeon
At this stage, consultation is what first comes into play. The surgeon is obliged to answer any question that you may have concerning the appendicitis or the appendectomy procedure in general. After the consultation, which is more of a question and answer session, the surgeon lets you know the operation options available.
By this time, the signing of legal papers also follows. You have to sign a consent form which suggests you fully understood the procedure. This, however, should only be done after you are fully satisfied with the surgeon’s answers and you fully understood the risks involved.
After the one-on-one session with the surgeon, another session with a certified registered nurse anesthetist, abbreviated as CRNA, is made. The CRNA specializes in the management of anesthesia and gives details on the anesthesia to be used during the surgery.
Generally, the anesthesia used during appendectomy procedures is useful in drawing the patient into a deep sleep-like state until the procedure is completed. This ensures that there's no pain involved during the actual surgery.
Type of Appendectomy Performed
Two types of appendectomies are available when it comes to the removal of the appendix. The surgeon has to choose one of either open appendectomy or laparoscopic appendectomy depending on how severe your appendicitis is, along with other reasons related to your medical background.
The Bottom Line
Despite being a common surgical procedure, appendectomy should still be taken seriously. A lot of precision and consultation have to be undertaken to ensure success and recovery, as well as avoid any future complications.