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What is an appendectomy?

An appendectomy is a surgery to remove the appendix. The appendix is a three to six-inch long pouch-like structure in the lower right area of the abdomen. It is attached to your intestines.  Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes infected or inflamed. Appendicitis can cause severe abdominal pain and infection. An appendectomy cures appendicitis and eliminates its symptoms. 

The function of the appendix is not entirely clear. It contains lymphoid tissue and may help the body fight infection. Other organs take over the infection-fighting work of the appendix after it is removed. You will have the same level of immunity as you did when you had an appendix.

An appendectomy can be a life-saving surgery, but it has risks and potential complications. You may require other treatments before surgery if your appendix has burst (ruptured). This includes antibiotics and placing a tube through your abdomen to drain pus from around the ruptured appendix. 

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 4, 2013

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Medical References

Acute Appendicitis. Better Medicine. http://www.bettermedicine.com/article/acute-appendicitis. Accessed April 16, 2013.
Appendectomy. American College of Surgeons. http://www.facs.org/public_info/operation/brochures/app.pdf. Accessed April 16, 2013.
Appendectomy. KidsHealth.org. http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/surgery/appendectomy.html. Accessed April 16, 2013.
Patient Information for Laparoscopic Appendectomy from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. http://www.sages.org/publication/id/PI08/. Accessed April 16, 2013.
August 26, 2011.

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