The appendix is a thin, finger-shaped organ located on the lower right side of the abdomen. It is connected to the large intestine and does not serve a purpose. When the appendix becomes inflamed, it causes symptoms such as pain, fever etc that occur as a result of the infection.
Appendicitis, if not treated on time may cause the infection to be spread to the abdominal cavity and cause what is known as peritonitis. Appendectomy or removal of the appendix is done as an emergency treatment for appendicitis. It can be done as an elective procedure if the person has mild symptoms of pain and inflammation.
How to prepare for a Laparoscopic Appendectomy?
- You’ll need to avoid eating and drinking for at least eight hours before the appendectomy.
- It’s also important to tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
- You should also tell your doctor if you may be pregnant, have been taking any medications, or have a history of bleeding disorders.
- Arrange for someone to stay with you during and after the procedure while you are getting out of anaesthesia.
- You may feel drowsy once you get out of the surgery and you will need help to attend to yourself.
- Prior to your surgery, you must schedule a consultation with your doctor who will take a detailed and complete medical history and perform a physical examination.
- You need to undergo certain blood investigations before the surgery to make sure you are physically ready for the procedure.
- During the exam, your doctor will gently palpate your abdomen to pinpoint the site of your abdominal pain and confirm it.
- Your doctor may advise imaging such as ultrasound if appendicitis is early.
- Before the procedure, you will be started on an IV so you can continue to receive the fluids and medication required.
- The procedure will be performed under general anaesthesia, and you will stay asleep during surgery.
How is the procedure done?
- General anaesthesia will be administered during the laparoscopic appendectomy.
- During a laparoscopic appendectomy, your surgeon will start with a tiny incision in the abdomen
- A tiny port will be inserted into the incision, and through the port, a tiny tube called a cannula is introduced.
- The cannula will be used to inflate your abdominal cavity with carbon dioxide gas.
- This increases the volume of the surgical area and makes more room for the surgeon to operate more precisely.
- The expansion enables the abdominal cavity and its contents to be visualised better.
- The cannula is removed and a laparoscope- which is a long and thin tube with a small light and a high-resolution camera at the end, is inserted.
- The camera captures images and displays the surgery on a video screen, allowing the surgeon to locate the appendix and guide the instruments through one to three tiny incisions
- More ports are inserted for long and narrow instruments to be introduced into the abdominal cavity
- The appendix is disconnected from the rest of the area and is removed outside through one of the incisions.
- A small plastic tube called a “drain” may be used to drain blood and fluids from the surgical area and facilitate healing and recovery
- Based on the recovery of the patient, the drain will be removed within a week following the surgery.
Advantages of Laparoscopic Appendectomy
The most common advantages of laparoscopic surgery are:
- You experience less pain after surgery
- The risk and extent of blood loss are greatly minimised
- The need for blood transfusion is reduced.
- A smaller scar than that of a traditional open surgery
- The duration of stay in the hospital is shorter as compared to an open surgery
- You may resume your routine faster and carry on with your normal activities
- You may resume normal bowel movements sooner than with an open procedure.
- The possibilities of risks and complications associated with open surgery are eliminated
- The chances of infection following a surgical procedure are reduced
- Any coexisting pathology found during the surgery will be easily identified and the course of action.
- The aesthetic results are better in terms of healing and minimise scars.
How to take care of yourself after a Laparoscopic Appendectomy?
- Follow the diet instructions as prescribed and advised.
- You may need to use a mild laxative for a couple of days following the surgery
- Drink plenty of water every day to help prevent constipation.
- Make sure you have adequate rest and eat an adequate diet to speed up your recovery
- Avoid lifting weights and climbing stairs and give your abdominal muscles rest
- Constipation is to be expected while on narcotic pain medication.
Complications of Laparoscopic Appendectomy
- You may experience shoulder pain after a laparoscopic appendectomy. The pain medication prescribed will help you soothe the pain
- Wash with warm water and soap before touching the area close to an incision site.
- Refraining from wearing tight clothing: This could rub against the incision sites and cause discomfort.
- Holding a pillow over the stomach: Use this to apply firm pressure before coughing or moving to minimise strain over the area of surgery