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Laparoscopic Appendectomy in Children


Laparoscopic appendectomy is surgery to remove your child's appendix. During this surgery, small incisions are made in your child's abdomen. A small scope and special tools are inserted through these incisions. A scope is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end.

Abdominal Organs


Before your child's surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.
  • Emotional support: Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.
  • Enema: Your child may need to have an enema before his surgery. This is liquid put into his rectum to help empty his bowel.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.
  • Preoperative care: Medicine may be given to help your child relax. Your child will be taken to the room where the procedure or surgery will be done.
  • General anesthesia will keep your child asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your child's IV. He may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down his throat. The tube may cause your child to have a sore throat when he wakes up.
  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your child's bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your child's waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your child's bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out.
  • Nasogastric or orogastric tube: A nasogastric (NG) or orogastric (OG) tube is inserted through your child's nose or mouth and down into his stomach. This tube keeps air and fluid out of the stomach during surgery.

During your child's surgery:

  • Your child's abdomen and genital area will be cleaned with soap and water. Sheets will be put over him to keep the surgery area clean.
  • During your child's surgery, a small incision is made in his belly button to insert the laparoscope through. Healthcare providers will insert other instruments by making 2 to 3 smaller incisions at different places on his abdomen. The abdomen is inflated with a gas (carbon dioxide) to lift the abdominal wall away from the internal organs. Clips, cautery, loops, or staplers are used to separate the membrane of the appendix from the cecum. The appendix is then placed in a small bag and cut off using scissors. The end of the intestine (bowel) where your child's appendix was attached is stitched and closed. The incisions are closed by stitches or surgical tapes and covered with bandages.
  • If the appendix has burst or has holes in it, the abdomen is thoroughly irrigated (washed out). This will be done after removing the appendix. Your child's healthcare provider leaves the skin open and allows it to heal on its own. He places a drain in the abdomen to allow infected materials to leave your child's body.

After your child's surgery:

Your child may be taken to a recovery room until he is fully awake. Healthcare providers will watch him closely for any problems. When healthcare providers see that your child is okay, he will be taken back to his hospital room. The bandages used to cover his stitches keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandages soon after your child's surgery to check his abdominal area.

  • Activity: Your child's healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay for your child to get out of bed. Call his healthcare provider before letting him get out of bed for the first time. If he ever feels or looks weak, let him lie down right away. Then call your child's healthcare provider.
  • Diet: Your child may be able to eat when bowel sounds (stomach growling) are heard. Your child's healthcare provider will listen to his abdomen using a stethoscope. Small amounts of water are usually given first and then other liquids such as apple juice, breast milk, or formula. If your child does not have problems after drinking liquids, healthcare providers may then let him eat soft foods. Some examples of soft foods are applesauce and mashed fruits or vegetables.
  • Drains: These are thin rubber tubes which may be put into your child's skin that help drain fluid from around his incision. The drains are taken out when the incision stops draining.
  • Medicines: Your child may need any of the following:
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Anti-nausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and control vomiting (throwing up). Your child may have an upset stomach after surgery or taking pain medication.
    • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell healthcare providers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.
  • Monitoring: Healthcare providers may check for your child's pulses on his arms or wrists. This helps healthcare providers learn if he has problems with blood flow after his surgery. Your child may also have any of the following:
    • Vital signs: Healthcare providers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give information about your child's current health.
    • Intake and output may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid your child is getting. They also may need to know how much your child is urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your child's urine.
  • Your child may need extra oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • Problems may happen during your child's laparoscopic appendectomy that can lead to a laparotomy (open surgery). His stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or nerves may get injured or burned during the surgery. He could also have trouble breathing, an infection, or too much bleeding during or after surgery. The gas used during your child's surgery may cause vomiting. He may also have shoulder or chest pain for 1 to 2 days after his surgery.
  • Without treatment, the appendix may rupture. If this happens, bowel contents and infected fluid may spread into the abdomen. This may lead to other serious medical problems such as sepsis (blood infection).


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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