This weekend at work I have had the pleasure of helping a very sweet little boy, "George" through an appendectomy. So I thought that would be a perfect topic for Healthy Sunday!
An appendectomy is when the appendix needs to be removed due to inflammation. The appendix is a small tail like bubble in the right lower side of the large intestines where when it's malfunctioning or blocked bacteria can get trapped and cause an infection. This infection will then cause the appendix to swell and hurt. If you or your child has appendicitis the pain can be felt in the right lower quadrant of the abdominal area. This pain will be accompanied by a mild fever. As the inflammation of the appendix continues it will affect the rest of the digestive tract causing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. The stomach will appear swollen and may be firm to touch.
These symptoms are important to know because when treated right away the appendix can be removed before rupture with less complications and a faster recovery. Once the appendix has ruptured, the abdominal cavity is then exposed to harmful bacteria which can cause a high fever and abscess infections in the abdomen. The appendix can rupture 24 to 72 hours after symptoms begin. When the appendix ruptures the pain becomes more severe and then suddenly releases, becoming instantly more comfortable.
If you think your child has appendicitis it is important to contact their pediatrician right away and to stop giving them food or water. If the diagnosis is determined to be appendicitis the only treatment will be surgery to remove the infected appendix. If your child as recently eaten the surgery will have to be postponed for a few hours while the stomach empties. Once the surgery has taken place, there will be a 2-3 day stay in the hospital depending on the speed of recovery. While in the hospital IV fluids will be given as well as IV antibiotics. If the appendix has burst the stay in the hospital will be longer 5 to 7 days for antibiotics and for possible removal of the abscess.
In "George's" case he was admitted in a timely manner but during the wait for the surgery his appendix burst (actually 20 minutes before I sent him to OR). But since it was so close to operating time his recovery has been fast at this point.