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Laparoscopic Appendectomy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about a laparoscopic appendectomy?

Laparoscopic appendectomy is surgery to remove your appendix. The surgery is done through small incisions in your abdomen.

Abdominal Organs

How do I prepare for surgery?

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after surgery. The person will need to stay with you for 24 hours to make sure you do not have any effects from the anesthesia.
  • Tell your surgeon about all allergies you have. Tell him or her if you have ever had an allergic reaction to anesthesia or antibiotics. Antibiotics may be given before surgery to prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare for surgery. Tell him or her about all medicines, supplements, and vitamins you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking any of these before surgery, and when to stop.
  • You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. You may need to use an enema the night before surgery. An enema will empty your bowel. Your surgeon will tell you if you need to do this, and how to do it.

What will happen during surgery?

  • You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. A catheter may be inserted to drain your urine. A nasogastric (NG) tube may be inserted through your nose and down into your stomach. This tube keeps air and fluid out of the stomach during surgery.
  • A small incision will be made in your belly button. Your surgeon will insert a laparoscope through the incision. This is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end. Other instruments will be inserted into 1 to 2 smaller incisions in your abdomen. Your abdomen will then be inflated with a gas. This lifts the abdominal wall away from the internal organs and allows your surgeon more space to work. Your appendix will then be removed.
    Laparoscopic Surgery
  • Drains (thin rubber tubes) may be placed to remove liquid from your incision area. The incisions will be closed with strips of medical tape.

What should I expect after surgery?

  • You may feel pain in your shoulder or chest from the gas used during surgery. This is normal and should go away in a day or two.
  • Bandages will cover your stitches to keep the area clean and dry to prevent an infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandages soon after surgery to check your incisions.
  • You may need to walk around the same day of surgery, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots.
  • Drains (thin rubber tubes) may be used to remove liquid from your incision area.
  • Medicines may be given to prevent a bacterial infection or to relieve nausea or pain.
  • You may be on a clear diet at first. You may be given ice chips and then liquids such as water, broth, juice, or soft drinks. Healthcare providers will tell you when it is okay to eat your regular foods.

What are the risks of a laparoscopic appendectomy?

Your stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or nerves may get injured or burned during the surgery. You could also have trouble breathing, an infection, or too much bleeding during or after surgery. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. A clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can be life-threatening. Problems may happen that cause you to need an open appendectomy instead. Examples include a burst appendix or an infection or heavy bleeding in your abdomen.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Further information

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