Appendix removal

The appendix is a finger-shaped pouch in the lower right side of your abdomen. Scientists don’t know exactly what purpose the appendix serves in the body, but it can still cause some serious problems.

Appendicitis is a condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and fills with pus. Appendicitis pain usually begins around the belly button, and then moves to the lower right abdomen. Pain generally increases over 12 to 18 hours, eventually becoming incredibly intense.

Appendicitis can affect anyone, but is most frequent between the ages of 10 – 30. The standard appendicitis treatment is surgical removal of the appendix, or appendectomy. Appendectomies are the most-common general surgical procedure in the United States.

Without removal, an inflamed or infected appendix may rupture. This can result in a collection of pus around the appendix, at which time infection can also spread throughout the abdomen – a life-threatening and fast-moving complication. Because of this, appendectomies are often performed on an emergency basis.

To remove the appendix, the surgeon makes either a large incision or several smaller incisions in your abdomen, generally dependent on whether or not your appendix has ruptured. The surgeon then cuts out the appendix and ties off blood vessels. He or she will also clean out the abdomen if the appendix ruptures before removal.

Learn more from the Mayo Clinic online.