Even though one in 20 people in the United States will get appendicitis at some point in their lives, most of us never give our appendix a second thought. That is, until something goes wrong and we require an appendectomy to surgically remove that small pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side.

Specialists Brian Prebil, DO, and Eric Thomas, MD, FACS, at our Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery in Peoria, Arizona, have performed more robotic surgery cases in the Western United States than anyone else. Dr. Prebil and Dr. Thomas offer either general surgery or minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove your appendix, depending on your particular situation.

When good organs go bad

While more than 533 mammals possess an appendix, little is known about its purpose. One theory suggests it may play a pivotal role as a storehouse for good bacteria, keeping our intestines healthy. It might also assist our immune system.

Whatever its function, we do know that when our appendix goes bad, it must be removed before it wreaks havoc upon our health.

Ins and outs of appendix surgery

If your appendix bursts, you need open surgery immediately. Our surgeon makes an open incision between 2-4 inches on the right side below your abdomen.

During general surgery, our surgeon:

  • Opens your abdominal area and separates your abdominal muscles
  • Removes and ties your appendix with stitches
  • Rinses your abdomen with saline if your appendix ruptured

After your appendectomy is complete, our surgeon closes your abdominal lining and muscles with stitches, and may insert a small to tube to temporarily drain fluids.

We make a larger cut if your appendix ruptured. You’ll be asleep under general anesthesia for both general and laparoscopic appendix surgery. In many cases, surgery takes about an hour or less, unless your appendix has already burst.

Laparoscopic appendectomy

We can also use minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove your appendix, as long as it hasn’t ruptured.

During this type of appendectomy, one of our board-certified surgeons makes 1-3 tiny incisions on the right side beneath your belly. They insert a thin tube, called a laparoscope, containing a miniature video camera and surgical tools. The camera sends images of your appendix to an external monitor and our surgeon uses those images to guide removal of your appendix.

Since the incision is smaller with laparoscopic surgery, there is:

  • Minimal scarring
  • Less pain and trauma to the area
  • Faster healing time

You and our expert team discuss your options to decide which procedure is appropriate.

Signs and symptoms of appendicitis

Appendicitis can strike anytime at any place. We advise you to contact our office or an emergency room if you experience such symptoms as:

  • Pain in your lower right stomach area followed by nausea or vomiting
  • Fever of 99-102 degrees plus pain in the area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen belly
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Severe cramps
  • Constipation or diarrhea and gas along with pain

It’s critical you contact your doctor right away if you experience these symptoms. In the meantime, avoid consuming over-the-counter pain relievers, antacids, laxatives, or liquids.

After your appendectomy

We advise our patients to stay in bed for at least 12 hours after an appendectomy. You can usually return to your normal routine within three weeks, or sooner following a laparoscopy.

Contact us if you experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Blood in your urine or vomit
  • Fever
  • Extensive pain or redness at the surgical site

The sooner you get help the better

An inflamed appendix eventually bursts without surgery. When that occurs, harmful bacteria escapes into your abdominal cavity, where it can infect your stomach, intestines, and liver. While you can’t control if you get appendicitis, eating high-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, seems to help.

If you need an appendectomy, Dr. Prebil and Dr. Thomas can discuss any concerns you have and how minimally invasive surgery, robotic surgery, or general surgery, might help. Simply call us or send a message online.

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