Laparoscopic Appendectomy Surgery Patient Information from SAGES

About Appendectomies

What is the Appendix?

The appendix is a long narrow tube (a few inches in length) that attaches to the first part of the colon. It is usually located in the lower right quadrant of the abdominal cavity. The appendix produces a bacteria destroying protein called immunoglobulins, which help fight infection in the body. Its function, however, is not essential. People who have had appendectomies do not have an increased risk toward infection. Other organs in the body take over this function once the appendix has been removed.

What is a Laparoscopic Appendectomy?

Appendicitis is one of the most common surgical problems. One out of every 2,000 people has an appendectomy sometime during their lifetime. Treatment requires an operation to remove the infected appendix. Traditionally, the appendix is removed through an incision in the right lower abdominal wall.

In most laparoscopic appendectomies, surgeons operate through 3 small incisions (each ¼ to ½ inch) while watching an enlarged image of the patient’s internal organs on a television monitor. In some cases, one of the small openings may be lengthened to complete the procedure.

Advantages of Laparoscopic Appendectomy

Results may vary depending upon the type of procedure and patient’s overall condition. Common advantages are:

  • Less postoperative pain
  • May shorten hospital stay
  • May result in a quicker return to bowel function
  • Quicker return to normal activity
  • Better cosmetic results

Are You a Candidate for Laparoscopic Appendectomy?

Although laparoscopic appendectomy has many benefits, it may not be appropriate for some patients. Early, non-ruptured appendicitis usually can be removed laparoscopically. Laparoscopic appendectomy is more difficult to perform if there is advanced infection or the appendix has ruptured. A traditional, open procedure using a larger incision may be required to safely remove the infected appendix in these patients.

How the Surgery is Performed

How is a Laparoscopic Appendectomy Performed?

The words “laparoscopic” and “open” appendectomy describes the techniques a surgeon uses to gain access to the internal surgery site. Most laparoscopic appendectomies start the same way. Using a cannula (a narrow tube-like instrument), the surgeon enters the abdomen. A laparoscope (a tiny telescope connected to a video camera) is inserted through a cannula, giving the surgeon a magnified view of the patient’s internal organs on a television monitor. Several other cannulas are inserted to allow the surgeon to work inside and remove the appendix. The entire procedure may be completed through the cannulas or by lengthening one of the small cannula incisions. A drain may be placed during the procedure. This will be removed later by your surgeon.

Laparoscopic appendectomy

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This brochure is intended to provide a general overview of a surgery. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical care or a discussion between you and your surgeon about the need for a surgery. Specific recommendations may vary among health care professionals. If you have a question about your need for a surgery, your alternatives, billing or insurance coverage, or your surgeons training and experience, do not hesitate to ask your surgeon or his/her office staff about it. If you have questions about the operation or subsequent follow up, discuss them with your surgeon before or after the operation.