What is a Laparoscopic Appendectomy?

L. Hepfer

A laparoscopic appendectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the appendix from the body through a small incision. During this procedure, small incisions are made in the abdomen so a surgeon can insert a small camera and surgical instrument. With the camera in the right place, the surgeon can watch what he is doing on a video screen, while he is removing the appendix.

Laparoscopic surgery can be used to remove an inflamed appendix through a small incision.
Laparoscopic surgery can be used to remove an inflamed appendix through a small incision.

The appendix is a small organ, located in the lower right side of the abdomen. It produces proteins called immunoglobulins. These immunoglobulins fight and destroy bacteria; however, the appendix is not an essential organ the body needs in order to survive. A person who has their appendix removed will not develop an increased risk toward infections. If the appendix has to be removed, other organs inside the body immediately take over the responsibility, and begin fighting off bacteria when needed.

Extreme abdominal pain is the most common symptom of appendicitis.
Extreme abdominal pain is the most common symptom of appendicitis.

For someone suffering from appendicitis, inflammation of the appendix, the symptoms can be excruciatingly painful. The abdominal pain may initially be mild, but will eventually develop into sharp, stabbing, localized pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, rectal tenderness and fever are other unpleasant symptoms often associated with appendicitis. If the appendix becomes inflamed, it must be removed. If the appendix ruptures while still inside the body, the results can be fatal.

Once the physician makes a diagnoses of appendicitis, a surgeon will decide if a laparoscopic appendectomy is the best choice for the patient. If the appendix has already ruptured, and the patient's life is in danger, a laparoscopic appendectomy would not be performed. A more traditional surgery with a larger incision would be necessary to remove the infection that has spread throughout the abdominal cavity. A laparoscopic appendectomy may not work well if there is a history of abdominal surgery, and scar tissue is present. Obesity can also cause complications during a laparoscopic appendectomy, as it may make it harder for the surgeon to see the organs properly inside the body.

There are several benefits when undergoing a laparoscopic appendectomy, as opposed to traditional open surgery. Having smaller incisions means there will be less pain after surgery, and the hospital stay will be shorter. Smaller incisions result in better cosmetic results with minimal scarring. Bowel functions usually return back to normal quicker, the patient's recovery time tends to be faster, and there are fewer complications involved.

Having smaller incisions during a laparoscopic appendectomy means less pain for the patient after surgery.
Having smaller incisions during a laparoscopic appendectomy means less pain for the patient after surgery.

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