Dr Devesh Kaushal

Appendix Surgery

Appendectomy, commonly known as appendix surgery, is the surgical removal of the vermiform appendix. This procedure is typically carried out as an emergency operation to treat appendicitis, which is an inflammation of the appendix.

What Causes Appendicitis?

Appendicitis may be caused by various infections such as virus, bacteria, or parasites, in your digestive tract. Or it may happen when the tube that joins your large intestine and appendix is blocked or trapped by stool. Sometimes tumors can cause appendicitis. The appendix then becomes sore and swollen.

Common causes of appendicitis:

  • Obstruction: A blockage in the lining of the appendix that results in infection can lead to appendicitis. The blockage may be due to fecaliths (hardened stool), foreign bodies, or cancer.
  • Infection: A gastrointestinal viral infection or other types of infections may lead to appendicitis.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Conditions such as Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation of the appendix.
  • Lymphatic Tissue Enlargement: This can block the appendix, typically as a response to infection in the body.

The classic symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Sharp pain in the lower right abdomen, which may begin as a dull ache around the navel and becomes more sharp and localised to the lower-right side
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever (usually low-grade) and chills
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Rebound tenderness (pain upon removal of pressure rather than application of pressure)

Appendicitis is often diagnosed based on clinical symptoms. Tests used to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out other conditions may include:

  • Physical Exam: Checking for tenderness in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Blood Test: Looking for an elevated white blood cell count, signalling infection.
  • Urine Test: Ensuring that a urinary tract infection or kidney stone is not causing the pain.
  • Imaging Tests: Abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to confirm appendicitis or find other causes for pain.

Non-Surgical Treatment:

In cases of mild appendicitis, where the appendix has not ruptured, treatment may involve antibiotics and a liquid or soft diet until the inflammation subsides. However, this approach is still somewhat controversial, and surgery remains the standard treatment to prevent complications.

Surgical Treatment:

The primary treatment for appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix. The types of surgery include:

  • Laparoscopic Appendectomy: A minimally invasive procedure using several small incisions and a camera to guide the surgery. This method typically has a faster recovery, less pain, and fewer complications.
  • Open Appendectomy: A traditional method involving an incision in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen through which the appendix is removed.

If appendicitis is treated promptly, the prognosis after surgery is usually very good. Complications can arise if appendicitis goes untreated, leading to a ruptured appendix and peritonitis, which is a severe abdominal infection requiring more extensive surgery and treatment.

Recovery from an appendectomy varies depending on the surgical method:

  • Laparoscopic Appendectomy: Often allows for discharge from the hospital within 1-2 days and a quicker return to normal activities, usually within a few weeks.
  • Open Appendectomy: A longer hospital stay and recovery period may be needed, compared to that of laparoscopic surgery. Patients may need to limit physical activity for several weeks.
  • Infection at the incision site or within the abdomen
  • Injury to nearby organs
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Risk of hernia, more common in open appendectomy
  • Monitoring for signs of infection at the incision sites
  • Gradual increase in activity as tolerated
  • Pain management, usually with medication
  • Follow-up with the surgeon to ensure appropriate healing


After the appendix is removed, most individuals return to normal health with no lasting complications. Since the appendix does not perform any vital functions, living without it does not cause any known health consequences.

Dr Devesh Kaushal is a Specialist General Surgeon and a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (FRACS).

Dr Kaushal offers 15+ years of experience and holds a Master of Surgery Degree, as well as being fully certified in gastroscopy and colonoscopy by the Gastroenterology Society of Australia (GESA).

Dr Kaushal takes an empathetic, warm-hearted and friendly approach to patient care and is completely dedicated to patient outcomes.

He consults and operates across Souther-Western Sydney.