Healthy Living

What are the Risks of an Appendectomy?

What are the Risks of an Appendectomy?

Key Takeaways

  • Appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix. In its later stages, the patient usually suffers from extreme symptoms and thus the need for an appendectomy.
  • Appendectomy is an emergency surgical procedure done to remove the appendix.
  • Like all surgical procedures, appendectomy involves a number of risks, including bleeding, infection, swelling, organ injury, and blocked bowels.

Sometimes the appendix develops complications. When that happens, the patient usually experiences intense pain in the lower abdomen. This requires immediate medical attention to prevent the appendix from bursting. This whole emergency condition is known as appendicitis.

Appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small, tube-like pouch located around the intersection of the large and small intestines. When certain bacteria infiltrates the appendix, it causes swelling and inflammation. By this time, there is a need for immediate treatment to avoid further complications. 

What is an appendectomy?

If you're diagnosed with appendicitis, a surgical procedure is performed quickly to remove the appendix. This type of surgical procedure is referred to as appendectomy. It is usually considered as an emergency procedure. Patients who require this type of surgery are almost always in danger, and therefore, the surgery is done as quickly as possible.

Once you have appendicitis, the appendix starts to swell at a very fast rate due to the accumulation of pus. Thus, the surgery is done to remove the appendix before it ruptures in the body.

Symptoms of Appendicitis

Appendicitis is not a very common condition. However, when it happens, there are a number of distinct symptoms associated with it. Below are some of the symptoms of appendicitis:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Low grade fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach pains. These are mostly sudden pains that are experienced in the lower belly.
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

It is important to note that the pain experienced due to appendicitis is always located in the lower part of your stomach. However, for pregnant women, the pain may be felt on the upper part of the abdomen.

Risks of Appendectomy

Like most of the surgery, appendectomy also comes with a number of benefits and risks attached to it. Some of these risks can be prevented with proper caution and care. However, some of the uncontrollable risks can be treated within a short time.

It is important for you to know the risks associated with this surgery so that you can prepare yourself appropriately. These risks include:

    1. Bleeding

Bleeding is one of the most common risks attached to appendectomy. Bleeding results from the cuts made to remove the appendix. The level of bleeding may increase or decrease depending on various factors surrounding the surgery. These may include:

  • Age of the patient
  • Health conditions of the patient - In this case, people with bleeding problems may have higher risks compared to others.
  • Medication - The type of medication you have been taking prior to the surgery may highly affect the rate of bleeding. In case you have been taking blood thinning medications, then it is important for you to inform your doctor before the surgery.
  • Type of appendectomy procedure used - There are two type of appendectomy procedures that may be used in the treatment of appendicitis. One of them is referred to as open appendectomy, while the other is laparoscopic appendectomy.

For open appendectomy, the risk of bleeding is much higher. The surgery involves making direct cuts of about 2-4 inches on the lower right side of the abdomen, then the appendix is removed through the cut.

For the laparoscopic appendectomy, there is minimal incisions, and thus minimal risk of bleeding. A small incision is made and a laparoscopic tube is inserted into the stomach. This type of tube directs the doctors through a camera attached to see where to cut without open surgery.

  • There are other factors that may affect the level of bleeding in this type of surgery. It also depends on the environment and skills of your surgeon. In this case, there are very rare cases when the surgeon's expertise can contribute to the level of bleeding. However, this factor is still worth considering.

     2. Infection and Swelling

The main purpose of performing appendectomy is to prevent the appendix from bursting. In cases where the appendix does rupture in the stomach, a number of complications may arise. In addition, there will be a deposition of waste and pus materials in the stomach. This will cause swelling and extreme discomfort.

The second risk associated with a ruptured appendix during the surgery is redness. The stomach will turn red as a result of waste deposits coming out of the ruptured appendix.

A condition called peritonitis is the third and the most dangerous risk of all. This is a type of infection that arises from bacteria contained in the appendix. Once the appendix bursts, it deposits all the bacterial waste in the stomach. This leads to a serious form of bacterial infection, causing the patient to suffer from severe symptoms.

However, the above risks can be minimized. The most important thing is you consult a doctor immediately and report all applicable symptoms as soon as possible to allow for early diagnosis and early prognosis. The earlier you report your symptoms, the more chances you have of immediately undergoing the right treatment. This prevents the worst case scenario which, in this case, is a ruptured appendix. 

    3. Injuries To Neighboring Organs

Appendectomy is a considered an emergency surgical procedure. The appendix is also located in the inner part of the stomach attached to the large intestines. Due to this, there is a high risk of injuring nearby organs if the patient does not receive immediate medical attention. 

    4. Blocked Bowels

Since the surgery is done to remove the appendix, nearby organs, such as the small and large intestines, may be affected as a result of this procedure. This means that the function of the intestines may be compromised as the appendix acts as a reliever of the former. 

As a result of appendectomy, there's a risk of blocked bowels. This may need further treatment in future. Thus it is important for your surgeon to take great care when removing the appendix to ensure that there will be no complications.

The Bottom Line

Appendectomy is an emergency surgery that is meant to remove the appendix. Even if it's an emergency procedure, it is usually crucial when the need arises and has numerous benefits to the patient involved. Such benefits include protecting you from severe infections and complications like peritonitis.