Appendicitis - Treatment 

Treating appendicitis 

If you have appendicitis, your appendix will need to be removed by surgery.

Removal of the appendix (which doctors might call an appendectomy) is one of the most commonly performed operations in the UK, and its success rate is excellent.

It's not always easy to make a clear diagnosis. But if there's an outside chance that you have appendicitis, doctors tend to advise surgery rather than run the risk of the appendix bursting.

Keyhole surgery

A keyhole operation (medically known as laparoscopy) is usually carried out as the recovery is quicker compared to an open operation.

Three small cuts are made to remove the appendix. The advantage of keyhole surgery is that scarring is minimal and the recovery time is fast.

Most people can leave hospital a few days after the operation, although it may be one or two weeks before you fully recover.

Read more information about a laparoscopy.

Open surgery

In some circumstances, keyhole surgery isn't recommended. Open surgery will be performed instead.

These include:

  • cases where the appendix has burst
  • people who have tumours in their digestive system
  • women who are in the first trimester (up to week 13) of pregnancy
  • people who have previously had stomach surgery

In these cases, the operation will involve a single large cut to remove the appendix. Open surgery will leave a larger scar and it may be a week before you're well enough to leave hospital.

Both keyhole and open surgery are carried out under a general anaesthetic, which means that you're asleep throughout the operation.

Read more information about the symptoms of appendicitis.

Page last reviewed: 11/04/2012

Next review due: 11/04/2014


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

nanashal said on 01 April 2014

I had keyhole surgery on Thursday 27th March at 9pm, I was discharged from hospital next morning 28th! I am in absolute agony. I can't sleep in my bed. I am half sitting, half lying on the sofa. I am nauseous. I think I should have stayed in for at least a full day. My wounds weren't checked and my temperature was 33.6 on discharge. I had no care plan so wasn't sure whether to shower, do I need check up, nothing. Where do we get these dispassionate nursing staff. Don't get me wrong there were 1 or 2 genuinely caring nurses but on the whole.....

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lozziemae said on 28 March 2014

This website really isn't very detailed! I had my appendix taken out via keyhole surgery on tuesday evening. I was expecting pain but not this much. During the surgery they pump gas into your stomach so they can see as much as possible, when i woke up after the surgery i thought i wouldn't feel any pain because i thought i'd be pumped with painkillers but woke up crying in agony! When i properly came round i noticed that my stomach was double the size (looked like i was 40 weeks pregnant!) I was discharged Thursday afternoon and the gas was still in there. The nurse said it would come out in the next few days (aka i'd fart it out) the pain hasn't eased! It's worse when i move and i can't get comfortable to sleep! This website should explain when happens in more detail, plus the surgeons said 6-8 weeks until i will be back to normal whereas on here it says 1-2 weeks! This needs updating so it's more helpful, i was in less pain before the surgery!

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laylem said on 18 October 2013

This is inaccurate as some cases of appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics. Usually involves a few days in hospital to have IV antibiotics (through a drip going into a vein) then they'll send you home with oral antibiotics. This doesn't have 100% success rate but if you can avoid surgery then in some cases it's worth a try isn't it?

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MagnoliaTree said on 27 March 2013

Following my son's recent experience of a keyhole appendectomy - the surgeon told me several days afterwards that keyhole can be more uncomfortable than open surgery in the first couple of days post-surgery due to the carbon dioxide that's pumped into the abdominal cavity to inflate it during the operation (so that the surgeon can see as much as possible). They take out as much of the gas as they can in theatre, but there is always some left that can sometimes lead to considerable discomfort. Also, the surgeon said if the appendix is badly infected as my son's was, keyhole statistically increases the risk of secondary infection because they can't get full access to 'clean' the abdomen of potentially infectious material after removing the appendix. While keyhole may be better for a straightforward appendectomy where the infection isn't too severe, and I appreciate that doctors can't know exactly what's going on until they 'get in there', I feel there is a tendency to gloss over the potential drawbacks of keyhole and make it sound like it's a breeze. It's still surgery and there can still be complications, just be aware. So don't assume keyhole appendectomy is a walk in the park or that recovery will necessarily be 'fast' as is blithely stated above - it may be so in many cases, I hope it is in yours, but in my son's case he was very ill in hospital for 12 days afterwards. I'm not putting that down to the fact that he had keyhole rather than open surgery, all I'm saying is that there are many other factors that will dictate how 'fast' recovery will be following an appendectomy. I think this particular page on the NHS site doesn't contain enough detail. If it happens to you or a loved one, I'd advise you to pester for as much information as possible at every stage.

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suleman hussain said on 07 June 2012

1 year ago i went to my gp with very bad tummy pain and was told to have a urine test when it was testd it saind i had blood in it and was told to go to the hospital for more looing into theire i was told i had a urinary tract infection ................. 1year later this january i went to my gp again that i had a very bad pain to the right side to my stomach then again i had another urine test with blood in i was sent to the hospital a 1 of being tested for appendisitus the surgeons said we will take the appendix out and look around i had it taken out an was told it was swollen and obstructed i spent 1 week in hospital and was treted well blood in your urine can be a sighn of appendicitis because the appendix is so close to the uretha tube if you have thease pains go straight to your gp love suleman xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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