The vermiform appendix is a small tube attached to the intestine, near the point where the small and large intestine meet. The word vermiform is Latin and means “shaped like a worm”. When the appendix becomes inflamed it can rupture leading to the death of the patient by peritonitis. The state of being inflamed is called appendicitis. It may be necessary to remove the inflamed appendix with a surgical procedure known as an appendectomy. Inflammation of the appendix is considered to be a medical emergency. In some cases a course of antibiotics may treat the inflammation without surgery being necessary.
The pain associated with an inflamed appendix is usually in the middle of the abdomen, generally around the bellybutton. It will then usually shift to the lower right abdomen. The abdomen will be very sensitive to pressure. This pain may be accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal swelling, vomiting, and fever. Pain, then vomiting, then fever, are considered to be the classic symptoms of acute appendicitis.
An appendectomy may be performed by cutting through the abdominal wall. This procedure is called a laparotomy and used in cases of advanced of advanced infection. The kind of incision used for removing the appendix is called a lower midline incision. The doctor makes a single vertical incision in the lower abdomen of the patient. A laparotomy is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. Another kind of surgical procedure used to remove the appendix is the laparoscopy. Laparoscopic surgery uses several small incisions. It is considered to be “minimally invasive surgery”. The surgeon inserts a small camera into one of the incisions and manipulates surgical tools through the others while watching the video from the camera. It is possible for laparoscopic surgery to be performed under local anesthesia.