Appendectomy (Removal of the Appendix)
The appendix is a small, worm-like pouch of tissue which extends from the first part of the large bowel (cecum). During an appendectomy, the inflamed or infected appendix is removed. An infected appendix must be taken out because if it leaks into the abdomen it can be fatal.
If a pocket of infection (an abscess) has formed or the appendix has ruptured, the abdomen will be “washed out” during surgery. This is done to prevent the infection from spreading. A small tube may be left in to help drain fluid.
Recovery is often quick. If the appendix has an abscess or has ruptured, your healing may be slower and more complex. In this case, medicine is needed to treat the infection.
Living without an appendix causes no known health problems.
If your doctor uses a laparoscope to remove the appendix, you have 3–5 small incisions. Expect the incisions to be swollen and numb.
- After two days, you may remove the Band-Aids® and shower. Wash the incisions with mild soap and water. Pat dry. Do not soak in the bathtub, go in a hot tub, or swim until they are completely healed. This may take at least 2 weeks.
- No ointments, powders, or creams on the incisions.
- You do not have to wear a bandage unless wounds are in a skin fold, your clothes rub on them, or they are draining. If you wear a Band-Aid®, change it at least once a day and more often if it gets wet.
- Look at your wounds each day for signs of infection:
- Increasing redness or warmth
- Pus-like drainage
- Excess swelling or bleeding
- Temperature more than 100.4° F by mouth, for two readings taken 4 hours apart
- We will have you up and walking the day of surgery. Make sure you continue walking at least 3 times each day at home.
- Nothing more strenuous than walking until okayed by your doctor.
- Do not drive while taking narcotic pain pills.
- Do not lift more than 10 pounds for 4–6 weeks.
- Check with your doctor before going back to work.
- You may resume sex when you feel ready.
- Avoid all tobacco including second hand smoke.
Expect to have pain. You will have pain pills to help manage the pain. You may have aching in your neck and shoulders from the gas put in your abdomen during surgery. Walking may help relieve this pain.
You will usually be able to eat a regular diet soon after surgery. You may wat to start with foods that are easy to digest (cream of wheat, cream soups, milk, yogurt, etc) and advance your diet as you can. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
A diet high in fluid and fiber can help prevent constipation. Be sure to drink 6-8 glasses of liquids each day. You may want to use a stool softener, docusate sodium (Colace®) and / or a bulk fiber laxative to prevent problems as long as you are taking pain pills and until you have your first bowel movement.
When to Call the Doctor
- Nausea or vomiting lasting more than 24 hours.
- If you have not had a bowel movement in 2-3 days, you may need a laxative.
- Temperature above 100.4 ºF by mouth, for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart.
- Excess swelling or bleeding.
- Increased redness and/or warmth at the incision site.
- Pus-like drainage.
- Pain not controlled with pain pills.
- Rapid or excess bruising, some bruising is normal.
Surgery Clinic: (608) 263-7502. This is a 24 hour number.
After hours, weekends and holidays ask for the doctor on call for Dr._________________. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free: 800-323-8942
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/02/2013
Copyright © 07/02/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5292
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