25-year old Karan Mehra had little knowledge of appendicitis until he started experiencing a sudden sharp pain in the lower right side of his abdomen. When the pain didn’t subside after a day, Karan visited a physician.
The physician suspected an underlying condition and referred Karan to Dr. Amarchand Bajaj, Senior Laparoscopic Surgeon at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital.
Diagnosis of Appendicitis
Dr Bajaj asked Karan a few questions to better understand the pain and to rule out potential causes.
He then performed a physical exam by applying pressure on the painful area. Karan felt the pain intensify when the pressure was released.
Based on his reaction, he was advised a blood test to check for a high white blood cell count, which may indicate infection.
Karan was diagnosed with appendicitis.
“Mostly appendicitis is a clinical diagnosis but your doctor may suggest some scans like CT scan or ultrasound depending on your condition,” remarked Dr. Bajaj.
“It’s good that you came in as soon as the pain started. Appendicitis is a condition that should not be ignored and needs immediate treatment,” said Dr. Bajaj
Karan wanted to learn more about the condition and what caused it.
What is Appendicitis and how is it caused?
Appendicitis is an inflammation of your appendix. The appendix is a small, finger-like pouch located at the point where the large and small intestines join. It has no known function.
The swelling and pain is mostly caused by fecal matter blocking the entry of the appendix but may occur after a viral infection of the digestive tract.
“Is there any way to prevent appendicitis, doctor?” Karan enquired.
“You can’t prevent it but you must consult a doctor as soon as you experience persistent abdominal pain,” Dr. Bajaj explained.
Karan wondered what complications may have risen if he hadn’t come in for a consultation.
What complications can arise due to appendicitis?
“If left untreated, the inflamed appendix could rupture or burst releasing infectious materials into the abdominal cavity. This could be a life-threatening situation,” Dr. Bajaj said.
Appendicitis treatment – Is Surgery necessary?
Depending upon the stage of appendicitis, your surgeon may recommend medicinal treatment or Appendectomy (surgical removal of the appendix). Karan was advised a Laparoscopic Appendectomy.
Given his young age, Karan naturally got anxious when he heard about the surgery. He wanted to learn more about it before he decided in favour of it.
What is Laparoscopic Appendectomy?
Laparoscopic appendectomy is a minimally invasive surgery meaning it is performed by making fewer and smaller surgical incisions in the abdomen.
Dr. Bajaj explained, “During the procedure, the abdominal cavity is inflated with carbon dioxide gas. We would make a small incision below your belly button and insert a laparoscope through the cut. This helps us see the organs and guide the instruments to perform the surgery.”
Karan also wanted to know about the benefits of the surgery.
Advantages of Laparoscopic Appendectomy
Laparoscopic surgery has many advantages. As it employs fewer and smaller cuts, you would:
- experience less postoperative pain,
- have shorter recovery time and
- you could get discharged in one or two days.
“Most people are able to get back to their normal lives within a week,” said Dr. Bajaj.
The risk of complications like infection and bleeding are also minimum in case of laparoscopic appendectomy.
Karan felt relieved at hearing the advantages but he still questioned whether there were other options for treatment.
Alternatives to Laparoscopic Appendectomy
“Mild appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics but will eventually need to be operated, because even with antibiotics, pus may get collected in the abdomen, and you may then need surgery,” explained Dr. Bajaj.
Deciding in favour of Laparoscopic Appendectomy
Karan understood that it may not be wise to delay the surgery. He informed his parents of the discussion with the doctor and they too clarified the doubts with the doctor.
Once they were explained the procedure in depth, they agreed to go ahead with the surgery.
What is recovery time for Laparoscopic Appendectomy?
Karan’s surgery went well and he was discharged from the hospital within 2 days.
He was also able to resume his normal routine within a week after the surgery.
“I am very happy with the whole process and especially thankful that the doctor was very helpful in answering all my questions. He gave me the confidence to go for the surgery,” said Karan.
Points to Remember
Although the laparoscopic procedure has many benefits, it might not be suitable for people with cardiac disease or some other pre-existing conditions.
“Laparoscopic appendectomy is also difficult to perform if the appendix has ruptured or the infection has advanced. In few such cases, it may need to be converted into an open surgery” said Dr. Bajaj.
Dr. Amarchand S. Bajaj, with whose editorial inputs this blog post was created, is well-known for his expert surgical advice and candid nature.