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Appendicitis is an inflammation, infection and enlargement of the appendix usually due to a blockage or damage to the intestines. Appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical intervention. Appendicitis generally does not go away on its own and can become very severe or life-threatening if the appendix ruptures.

Surgical Treatment Options

Once appendicitis is diagnosed, the physician will usually conduct surgery to remove the appendix. Surgical removal is relatively simple. Since the appendix is not a vital organ, patients generally suffer few or no ill effects from its removal and recover without the need for any special diet, exercise or activity concerns. There are two types of surgery your physician may consider: laparoscopic surgery or laparotomy.

Laparoscopic Surgery

This is generally the preferred choice of surgery due to its faster recovery time and decreased the possibility of complications during and after surgery. In laparoscopic surgery, a few small incisions are made in the abdomen through which surgical tools are inserted. The appendix is then removed and the opening sealed.

Laparotomy

This procedure involves making a single larger incision in the lower right portion of the abdomen. While more invasive compared to laparoscopic surgery, laparotomy gives the surgeon greater access to the abdominal cavity and to the appendix itself. The surgeon may choose laparotomy over laparoscopic surgery if he or she believes that greater access is needed in order to correctly remove the appendix and identify any additional problems.

Peritonitis

In cases where the inflamed and enlarged appendix is not removed in time, it may burst. This spreads infected fluids throughout the abdominal cavity and can lead to serious complications, infections, and death. Treatment for peritonitis is more invasive compared to treatment for regular appendicitis. The surgeon will perform a Laparotomy and may need to make a larger incision. The abdominal cavity is then flushed to remove the infected fluids. The ruptured appendix is then removed and the opening sealed. Recovery for peritonitis may take longer than with regular appendicitis.

Appendiceal Abscess

Sometimes an abscess of pus may form on the appendix due to appendicitis. This slightly complicates the surgical procedure. The abscess must be drained of fluid before surgery or sometimes during surgery. A drainage tube is inserted through the abdominal wall and must remain for about two weeks.

Use of Antibiotics

Appendicitis includes serious infection in the appendix. All appendicitis patients are given antibiotics prior to surgery. Some may be given antibiotics well in advance of surgery and may continue to take a regimen after surgery. Antibiotics may clear up the infection and cure the appendicitis on its own, although this is unusual. Even if antibiotic treatment is successful, the surgeon will generally decide to remove the appendix to prevent future problems.

Correct and swift identification and treatment of appendicitis is vital. If you are experiencing common appendicitis symptoms, it is important to speak with a doctor or visit the emergency room immediately.