Human body has a vermiform appendix - a small finger-shaped, pouch-like structure that hangs from the colon, on the lower right part of the abdomen. Even though it is said that the appendix has no function in the body, it has been suggested by experts that this structure plays a small role in enhancing immunity. However, removal of appendix may not cause any considerable effect on the body. So in case of severe inflammation and/or infection of the organ, surgical removal of appendix (appendectomy) is done, to avoid complications. Nowadays, laparoscopic appendectomy is preferred to the conventional open surgery, due to various reasons.
Appendicitis and Appendectomy
Removal of appendix or appendectomy is necessitated under certain circumstances, like inflammation of the appendix (appendicitis), which is mainly caused by obstruction of the organ or infection. Appendicitis may also be caused by injury or trauma to the appendix, or calcified deposits in the structure. Appendicitis causes stomach pain, which can be severe in some cases. The person may also experience vomiting, diarrhoea, low-grade fever, etc. Severe cases of inflammation may cause a ruptured appendix too. While mild appendicitis is treated with antibiotics, severe cases often require surgical removal of appendix. Appendectomy or removal of appendix is done in two ways - either through an open surgery or a laparoscopic procedure.
Laparoscopic Appendectomy Procedure
Traditionally, an infected or inflamed appendix is removed through an open surgery. A two to four-inch-long incision is made on the lower right abdomen. Once the site is examined, the appendix is located and separated from the surrounding tissues and cecum. It is brought up and removed from where it is attached to (cecum). The location from where the appendix is removed is sealed before the cecum is returned to its original location. The incision is sealed, by sewing the muscle layers and skin.
However, in case of a laparoscopic appendectomy, three to four small incisions are made on different locations in the abdomen. Each incision is around one inch in length. Generally, two smaller incisions are made on the lower right abdomen, and two slightly larger incisions are made near the navel. One of these larger incisions is made right next to the navel and the other one is made at a location that lies between the navel and the pubis. Through one incision, the surgeon will insert the laparoscope, which is a specialised instrument with attached camera. This camera sends images of the surgery site that are displayed through a video monitor. This helps the surgeon to get a clear view of the surgical site, and perform the surgery smoothly. The other incisions are used to insert surgical tools required for appendix removal. The abdominal cavity is inflated with carbon dioxide gas, so that enough space is available for the surgeon to work. The rest of the procedure is more or less similar to the traditional surgery.
Laparoscopic appendectomy is beneficial in various ways. It is minimally invasive, and there are less chances of scarring, as the incisions are smaller. Recovery time is also shorter, as compared to the traditional open surgery. Laparoscopic appendix removal is also said to cause less post operative pain, and is often associated with reduced chances of complications. It is also preferred for cosmetic reasons. However, according to health experts, it takes around a month for adults to recover from this surgery.
In short, laparoscopic appendectomy can be advantageous in some ways. But your doctor is the best person to decide whether you need an open surgery or the laparoscopic one. Laparoscopic surgery is not preferred in many cases, like those with a burst appendix or an abscess. So the condition of the patient is also taken into consideration, while deciding the type of surgery. As compared to the traditional open surgery, laparoscopic surgery may cost more.