If your child has appendicitis, a surgery could fix it.
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis means inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is part of the large bowel. When it is inflamed it causes pain and makes you feel unwell. As the inflammation gets worse, it can cause an abscess (a collection of pus) to form in the tissues and the appendix may burst, causing peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen), which is life-threatening.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Surgery removes the inflamed appendix and allows infected pus to be washed out. The aim is to make your child better and to prevent the serious complications appendicitis can cause
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
If your child has severe appendicitis, there is no alternative to surgery. Your surgeon may recommend a course of antibiotics to help the inflammation to settle. Your child may still need an appendicectomy and this will usually be arranged up to 6 months later. Your surgeon may perform an ultrasound scan to find out if there is an abscess. If your child does have an abscess, your surgeon may need to perform an operation to remove the pus, or drain the pus using a small tube.
What does the procedure involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Your surgeon will tie off the blood supply to the appendix, stitch the base and then remove it.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.
General complications of any operation
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring of the skin
Specific complications of this operation
Keyhole surgery complications
- Damage to structures such as the bowel, bladder or blood vessels
- Developing a hernia near one of the cuts
- Surgical emphysema
- Incorrect diagnosis
- Developing an abscess within the abdomen
- Continued bowel paralysis
- Developing a leak where the appendix has been cut off from the bowel
- Developing a leak into the abdominal cavity
- Bowel obstruction
- Pylephlebitis, where infection spreads to the liver
How soon will I recover?
Your child should be able to go home 2 to 5 days after an operation for simple appendicitis or about a week after an operation for a burst appendix. Your child should be able to return to school after about 2 weeks, depending on how much surgery they need. Your child can return to normal activities as soon as they feel comfortable. This may take up to 6 weeks.
Appendicitis is a common condition where the appendix becomes inflamed. Surgery is the only dependable way to prevent the life-threatening risk of the appendix bursting and spreading infection throughout the abdomen. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.
Authors: Mr Shailinder Singh DM FRCS (Paed. Surg.), Mr Jonathan Sutcliffe FRCS
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