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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this surgery and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about his surgery and how you can help.
The appendix (uh-PEN-dix) is a narrow, finger-shaped organ located in the lower right side of the belly. It is connected to the large intestine, and has no function in humans. Appendectomy (app-pen-DECK-toe-me) is done as an emergency surgery for appendicitis because the appendix has become inflamed (swollen) and needs to be removed. If it is not removed, it could burst and cause infection called peritonitis (per-i-toe-NY-tus ) in the abdomen. A laparoscopic (lap-a-ro- SKOPP-ik) or “lap” appendectomy is a minimally invasive surgery to remove the appendix through several small incisions, rather than through one large one. Recovery time from the lap appendectomy is short.
Most patients who need a lap appendectomy enter the hospital through the Emergency Department and are taken to surgery within a few hours. Your child will be given antibiotics first and then be taken to surgery.
A pediatric anesthesiologist — a doctor who specializes in anesthesia for children — will meet with you before the surgery to ask questions about your child’s health and about when your child last ate. This information is important because many patients with appendicitis appear to have a full stomach because of irritation from the inflamed appendix. Because your child may have eaten more recently than is usually advised for surgery, the anesthesiologist may make adjustments to your child’s anesthesia so that he or she does not vomit during the operation. Once admitted, your child will not be able to have anything to eat or drink until after the operation.
As the parent or legal guardian, you will be asked to sign a consent form before the anesthesia is given.
When your child is asleep, the surgery will begin.
Children’s Hospital takes every precaution to make sure your child is safe. Although appendectomy is the most common pediatric emergency surgical procedure, there are some risks.
Risks involved in the lap appendectomy include:
Your child’s surgeon will discuss these risks with you before the surgery.
While your child is asleep, his or her heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen level will be checked continuously. Your child might have a breathing tube placed while he or she is asleep. If a breathing tube is used, your child might have a sore throat after the surgery.
To keep your child asleep during the surgery, he or she might be given anesthetic medication by mask, through the IV tube, or both. When the surgery is over, the medications will be stopped and your child will begin to wake up.
After surgery, your child will be moved to the recovery room to allow the anesthetic to wear off. You will be called so that you can be there as he or she wakes up.
The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed before the surgery. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
Before you go home, your doctor will prescribe pain medication for your child.
If your child’s appendix has burst, he or she will be treated for infection with antibiotics that will be given through an intravenous (IV) tube. Your child may be sent home with antibiotics and a special IV tube called a PICC (pick) line. A PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line is a longer IV, usually placed in the upper arm. You will be told how to care for your child’s incisions and/or PICC line before leaving the hospital.
After your child is discharged and goes home, he or she should take it easy for the next 1 to 2 weeks.
Your child may take a shower 2 days after the surgery; baths are allowed 5 days after surgery.
Following the surgery, activity needs to be somewhat restricted.
If your child has a fever higher than 101.5 F, bleeding, or foul smelling drainage from the area around the incisions, call your surgeon right away. Also call the doctor if your child has:
If you have any specific questions about your child’s surgery, you should discuss them with the surgeon before the surgery. After the surgery, you may call the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery at Children’s Hospital and ask to speak with your child’s surgeon, or speak with him or her during the follow-up visit, if needed.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh before the follow-up visit and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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