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Open Appendectomy in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about an open appendectomy?

An open appendectomy is surgery to remove your child's appendix through an incision in his or her lower abdomen.

Abdominal Organs

How do I prepare my child for surgery?

  • Your child's healthcare provider will tell you how to help your child prepare for surgery. The provider will tell you which medicines your child should take or not take on the day of surgery. You may be told not to let your child eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of surgery.
  • Antibiotics may be given through your child's IV to prevent an infection during or after surgery. Tell your healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to antibiotics.

What will happen during surgery?

  • General anesthesia will be given to keep your child asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your child's surgeon will make an incision in your child's lower abdomen. The appendix will be removed. The incision will be closed with stitches, staples, or medical glue.
  • If your child's appendix has ruptured or pus remains inside your child's abdomen, a drain may be placed in the wound.

What will happen after surgery?

  • Your child may need to spend a few nights in the hospital. This may be needed if the appendix ruptured or your child has other medical problems.
  • Your child may be on a clear diet at first. He or she 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 let your child eat regular foods.

What are the risks of an open appendectomy?

  • Even with surgery, your child may develop gangrene (tissue death). Your child may get a life-threatening blood infection. Organs may be damaged or push through the incision site. Scar tissue may form inside your child's body and cause tissue and organs to stick together. This may cause bowel obstruction or infertility. Your child's bowels may stop working. He or she may get an abscess (pus-filled area) that can cause infection. Another surgery may be needed to help fix some of these problems.
  • Your child may get a blood clot in his or her leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling. The clot can also stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your child's body. The clot can break loose and travel to your child's lungs or brain.

Care Agreement

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. 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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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.