Appendectomy is the term that is used in the medical field to refer to a surgical operation used to remove the appendix. The appendix is a small tube-shaped pouch that is attached to the large intestines. An appendectomy is an emergency operation that is conducted to treat the inflammation of the appendix, which is also known as appendicitis.
The appendix, which is located in the lower right part of your abdomen, is thought by many scientists to be just a vestigial organ. Its significance has not been determined yet. However, it is believed to be useful in helping you recover from infections that occur both in the small and large intestines. Aside from this, it is also believed to help the body recover from inflammation and diarrhea. However, the body can still function normally in the absence of the appendix. All its functions are taken care by other body organs.
What really happens when the appendix is inflamed?
The formation of pus is one of the effects when your appendix becomes inflamed. When the appendix becomes swollen, bacteria tend to multiply inside the organ and lead to the formation of pus.
As with other health problems, it is very important to seek immediate medical assistance if you start experiencing appendicitis symptoms. But what are the symptoms that you will be looking out for? Let us take a look at some of the signs and symptoms that are experienced by patients who have appendicitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis
- Mild or a low-grade fever
- Stiff abdominal muscles
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the stomach that is usually near the navel and the lower right side of the abdomen
The quickest and most efficient method of treating appendicitis is through an appendectomy. If not treated, appendicitis may result in a serious infection known as peritonitis. This infection occurs upon the rupture of the appendix, thereby spreading fecal particles and bacteria to the peritoneal cavity.
The infection can be fatal, so there is an immediate need for surgery to remove the appendix. The types of surgery that may be performed for an appendectomy are laparoscopic surgery and open surgery.
After an Appendectomy
After the surgical operation to remove the appendix, you are usually kept in the recovery room for a couple of hours. In the recovery room, your vital signs are closely observed. Some of the vital signs that are observed include the following:
- Heart rate
- Any negative reactions to the anesthesia that was used
- Breathing rate
- Reaction to the entire operating procedure
The time of release from the recovery room varies from one person to another. However, it is usually dependent on:
- The type of appendectomy that was carried out
- Your body's response to the surgery
- Your physical condition
Some people have to spend the night at the hospital’s observation facility just to be certain that they are fine. However, it also depends on how severe your appendicitis was. If it was not very serious, it may only take a short period of time to be discharged from the hospital after an appendectomy. It may be as short as being discharged the same day after your surgery.
However, it is highly recommended that you have someone with you when going home. A friend or a member of your family may take you home. As a recovering patient, walking alone is not recommended for you. Your recovery from an appendectomy begins as soon as the operation is completed and the cut stitched.
The days following an appendectomy, you are most likely to experience mild pain around the incision area. The pain normally goes away in a few days. Additionally, you will be prescribed painkillers to ease the pain. Antibiotics also come in handy in preventing infections, especially after the surgery. However, an antibiotic treatment does not guarantee that you will never experience an infection. You have to be on the lookout for the following signs that may indicate a possible infection:
- A significant loss of appetite
- Cramping of the stomach muscles
- High body temperature
- Swelling of the area around the incision
Recovery from an appendectomy is usually something that has only a few challenges. The risk of developing an infection is very low and the majority of the patients make their recovery without any infections. Before fully recovering from an appendectomy, it is recommended that you give your body time to heal by engaging in lesser activities that require a lot of physical movements.
After the procedure, it is important to have appointments with your doctor for regular checkups. It is through these checkups that the doctor determines whether you are on the path to complete recovery. A complete recovery takes up to a period of a month and a half.
Care at Home
A successful and complete recovery from any disease or condition is usually as a result of a follow-up care that is undertaken after the actual clinical treatment. The following activities should be observed to have a quick and better recovery:
- Strenuous activities should be avoided at all cost.
- Taking a shower is fine 24 hours after surgery unless there is a drain near the incision.
- Get some rest, especially when you feel tired.
- Take regular daily walks, increasing the distance with each day’s walk.
- Resuming to normal daily activities should only take place 3 to 4 weeks after the surgery.
Along with the activities after the surgery, it is important to mind your diet. Take the following aspects of your diet into consideration:
- Unless in cases where the doctor tells you otherwise, plenty of fluids should be included in your diet.
- A lot of roughage and food high in fiber should be taken. Eating fiber-enriched foods can help a lot in the prevention of constipation. It also helps ease daily bowel movements.
- Try to restrain yourself from consuming foods that are high in fat.
The recovery time after an appendectomy is largely dependent on the type of surgery that was involved. In cases where your appendix had ruptured, the incision has to be drained.