What is an Appendectomy?
Written by Glenn Rosenberg   
Monday, 05 October 2009

An appendectomy is surgery to remove the appendix, a small, finger-shaped pouch found at the junction of the small and large intestines.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Usually, appendectomies are done on people who have an infected or ruptured appendix. Because humans no longer need the appendix and infection is so dangerous, a healthy appendix is sometimes removed during another operation.

This is done only when it will not add risks to the main surgery or call for another incision.

Many conditions, such as pelvic infections, gastroenteritis (inflammation or infection of the stomach or intestines) and ovarian problems, cause symptoms similar to appendicitis. Exploratory surgery must be done to confirm appendicitis. Sometimes, even when a surgeon cannot be sure there is a problem, he or she will take out the appendix to be safe.

How is the procedure performed?

The surgery can be done in two ways:
- In an open appendectomy a cut is made through the wall of the lower belly on the right side.
- In a laparascopic appendectomy three small cuts are made in the belly button and abdomen. A harmless gas is pumped into the abdomen to separate the organs. A scope that lets the surgeon see inside the body and tiny surgical tools are passed through the incisions. If the appendix is ruptured, the surgeon may have to go to open surgery.

Usually, just an artery and a veil of thin tissue links the appendix to the intestines. Once the surgeon opens up the body, it is a fairly simple job to clamp off tissues and the artery so that the organ can be safely removed.