An appendicectomy (or appendectomy) is the surgical removal of the vermiform appendix. This procedure is normally performed as an emergency procedure, when the patient is suffering from acute appendicitis. In the absence of surgical facilities, intravenous antibiotics are used to delay or avoid the onset of sepsis; it is now recognized that many cases will resolve when treated non-operatively. In some cases the appendicitis resolves completely; more often, an inflammatory mass forms around the appendix. This is a relative contraindication to surgery.

Appendicectomy may be performed laparoscopically (this is called minimally invasive surgery) or as an open operation. Laparoscopy is often used if the diagnosis is in doubt, or if it is desirable to hide the scars in the umbilicus or in the pubic hair line. Recovery may be a little quicker with laparoscopic surgery; the procedure is more expensive and resource-intensive than open surgery and generally takes a little longer, with the (low in most patients) additional risks associated with pneumoperitoneum (inflating the abdomen with gas). Advanced pelvic sepsis occasionally requires a lower midline laparotomy.

In general terms, the procedure for an open appendicectomy is as follows.

Antibiotics are given immediately if there are signs of sepsis, otherwise a single dose of prophylactic intravenous antibiotics is given immediately prior to surgery.

General anaesthesia is induced, with endotracheal intubation and full muscle relaxation, and the patient is positioned supine.

The abdomen is prepared and draped and is examined under anaesthesia. If a mass is present, the incision is made over the mass;Fact|date=February 2007 otherwise, the incision is made over McBurney's point, one third of the way from the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) and the umbilicus; this represents the position of the base of the appendix (the position of the tip is variable). The various layers of the abdominal wall are then opened. The appendix is identified, mobilized and then ligated and divided at its base. Some surgeons choose to bury the stump of the appendix by inverting it so it points into the caecum. Each layer of the abdominal wall is then closed in turn.

Emergency appendicectomy

An inflamed appendix can be life-threatening, particularly if the patient is out of reach of medical care. Historical records show a number of appendicectomies carried out by unskilled "ad hoc" surgeons, communicating with a base hospital by telephone or even telegraph.Fact|date=February 2007.

Prophylactic appendicectomy

To find the cause of unexplained abdominal pain, exploratory surgery is sometimes performed. If the appendix is not the cause of symptoms, the surgeon will thoroughly check the other abdominal organs and remove the appendix anyway, to prevent it from becoming a problem in the future.

When abdominal surgery is performed for an entirely different reason (e.g. hysterectomy or bowel resection), the surgeon sometimes decides to perform an appendicectomy in addition to the intended procedure, to eliminate the possible need of a future surgery just to remove the appendix. However, recent findings on the possible usefulness of the appendix has led to an abatement of this practice.


If appendicitis develops in a pregnant woman, an appendicectomy is usually performed and should not harm the fetus. [ [ Risk Factors That Develop During Pregnancy] ] The risk of fetal death in the perioperative period after an appendectomy for early acute appendicitis is 3% to 5%. The risk of fetal death is 20% in perforated appendicitis. [Sabiston Textbook of Surgery 2007]


Recovery time from the operation varies from person to person. Some will take up to three weeks before being completely active; for others it can be a matter of days. In the case of a laparoscopic operation, the patient will have three stapled scars of about an inch in length, between the navel and pubic hair line. When a laparotomy has been performed the patient will have a 2-3 inch scar, which will initially be heavily bruised.


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Appendicectomy — Appendectomy Ap pen*dec to*my, Appendicectomy Ap*pend i*cec to*my, n.] [Appendix + Gr. ?, fr. ? excision.] (Surg.) Excision of the vermiform appendix. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • appendicectomy — noun (plural mies) Date: 1894 British appendectomy …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • appendicectomy — /euh pen deuh sek teuh mee/, n., pl. appendicectomies. Chiefly Brit. appendectomy. * * * …   Universalium

  • appendicectomy — noun The surgical procedure for the removal of the vermiform appendix …   Wiktionary

  • appendicectomy — SYN: appendectomy. * * * ap·pen·di·cec·to·my ə .pen də sek tə mē n, pl mies Brit APPENDECTOMY * * * n. surgical removal of the vermiform appendix. See also appendicitis. * * * ap·pen·di·cec·to·my (ə …   Medical dictionary

  • appendicectomy — n. surgical removal of the appendix …   English contemporary dictionary

  • appendicectomy — ap·pen·di·cec·to·my …   English syllables

  • appendicectomy — n. surgical removal of the vermiform appendix. See also: appendicitis …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • appendicectomy — /əpɛndəˈsɛktəmi / (say uhpenduh sektuhmee) noun (plural appendicectomies) → appendectomy …   Australian English dictionary

  • appendicectomy —   n. removal of vermiform appendix …   Dictionary of difficult words

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