Peninsula Regional Medical Center - Part of Peninusula Regional Health System

Laparoscopic Appendectomy-A Typical Patient Experience

Laparoscopic Appendectomy
Typical Patient Experience

Appendicitis remains one of the most common surgically-treated diseases.  It typically causes acute abdominal pain, resulting in diagnosis within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.  Therefore, patients often meet the surgeon and discuss the operation in the Emergency Department.

Most cases of appendicitis requiring laparoscopic appendectomy are emergent and the patient will initially report to the Emergency Department with abdominal pain, usually in the right lower abdomen.   Patients will meet the anesthesiologist in a pre-surgical room to discuss the aspects of general anesthesia and answer any final questions.  The patient is then brought to the operating room, given sedation medicine and general anesthetics.

The operation begins with the insertion of 3 laparoscopic surgical instruments into the abdomen through tiny incisions.  Carbon dioxide gas is used to inflate the abdomen creating a safe space in which the surgeon can work.  The appendix is dissected and removed through the incision at the belly button.  The gas and surgical tools are removed, and incisions closed.  The operation usually takes less than an hour to complete.

After the operation, patients spend about an hour in the recovery room.  They resume a normal diet almost immediately.  Pain medication is administered orally with the intravenous route as a back up.  Most patients go home the following day, however, if the appendix is ruptured or advanced disease is present, discharge will be delayed. 

The laparoscopic approach offers the surgeon a better opportunity to explore the abdomen.  It offers the patients a slightly lower chance of infection, less scarring and a gentler recovery.   Patients can expect to be off work for about a week, and should expect a full recovery and a return to all normal activities within two weeks.