Appendectomies are performed to treat appendicitis, an inflamed and infected appendix.
Since appendicitis occurs most commonly in males between the ages of 10-14 and in females between the ages of 15-19, appendectomy is most often performed during this time. The diagnosis of appendicitis is most difficult in the very young (less than two years of age) and in the elderly.
Appendectomy is considered a major surgical operation. Therefore, a general surgeon must perform this operation in the operating room of a hospital. An anesthesiologist is also present during the operation to administer an anesthetic. Most often the anesthesiologist uses a general anesthetic technique whereby patients are put to sleep and made pain free by administering drugs in the vein or by agents inhaled through a tube placed in the windpipe. Occasionally a spinal anesthetic may be used.
After the patient is anesthetized, the general surgeon can remove the appendix either by using the traditional open procedure (in which a 2-3 [5-7.6 cm] in incision is made in the abdomen) or via laparoscopy (in which four 1 in [2.5 cm] incisions are made in the abdomen).
Mary Jeanne Krob MD, FACS, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,