The appendix is a pouch without a known purpose that is attached to the first portion of your colon on the lower right hand side of your abdomen. When the entry to the appendix becomes blocked, it often becomes inflamed and infected, resulting in appendicitis. While appendicitis most often occurs between the ages of 10 and 30, it can occur in virtually any age group. Typically, the pain from appendicitis begins around the umbilicus and then moves to the lower right abdomen.
If untreated, the appendix has the potential to rupture and cause peritonitis (gross spillage within the abdomen). The standard treatment for appendicitis is removal of the appendix. Classically, the appendix was removed through a right lower quadrant open incision, but at Mount Sinai nearly all cases of appendicitis are now treated laparoscopically, leaving the patient essentially scarless.
The minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical option for removing the appendix has become the standard of care at the faculty practice at Mount Sinai. Once the diagnosis of appendicitis has been made, three small (5-10 mm) incisions are made through which the laparoscope and surgical instruments are inserted. The diseased appendix is then removed through one of the incisions.
The benefits of the laparoscopic technique for appendectomy include
- Less post-surgical pain and need for pain medicine
- Shorter hospital stays (typically 1-2 days if no perforation) and faster recovery times
An additional advantage of laparoscopy is that it allows our surgeons to look inside the abdomen to make a clear diagnosis in cases in which the diagnosis of appendicitis is in doubt.
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