Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Appendectomy

2-minute read

An appendectomy is an operation to remove the appendix, which is a small, tube-like part of the bowel. It often needs to be performed urgently when someone has an infected and inflamed appendix. It is also known as an appendicectomy.

Why is an appendectomy performed?

An appendectomy is usually done because the appendix is inflamed or has burst.

How to prepare for an appendectomy

You will need to fast (have nothing to eat or drink) for at least 6 hours before the operation. You might be given fluids through a drip (intravenously, directly into a vein) so you don't get dehydrated.

Your doctors and nurses will explain the operation. Ask questions if you're not sure about something.

What happens during an appendectomy?

A general anaesthetic is needed for this kind of surgery.

The surgeon might do the appendectomy laparoscopically, through several tiny cuts. Sometimes a larger cut is needed - this is known as an open appendectomy.

During and after the surgery you will be carefully monitored.

You are likely to be given antibiotics and pain relief.

What to expect after an appendectomy

When you wake up, you might be disoriented or confused. You might also be in pain.

You’ll be told when you can safely eat and drink. You are likely to be on a drip at first, then you will progress to drinking fluids, then soft foods, and then your usual diet once your surgeon thinks you are ready. Don't rush - taking it slowly helps the bowel heal quickly and well.

You’ll need medicine for pain. That might be through the drip at first, then you might change to tablets. You may also need antibiotics through the drip.

You'll probably stay in hospital for 1 to 3 days. Some people need to stay longer if complications occur.

What can go wrong?

All surgery has risks, as does any anaesthetic.

Possible risks include wound infection, infection inside your abdomen, bleeding, damage to the intestine or bladder, and needing to change from a keyhole to an open procedure partway through the surgery.

More information

About appendectomy

Visit The Royal Children’s Hospital and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network websites for more information about appendectomy.

About surgical procedures

Visit the healthdirect surgical procedures page to learn more about surgical procedures in general, with information including:

Last reviewed: November 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Appendectomy - Better Health Channel

An appendectomy is usually carried out on an emergency basis to treat appendicitis.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Appendicectomy (appendix removal) information | myVMC

Appendicectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the appendix from the abdomen. It is a treatment for acute appendicitis and tumours of the appendix.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Appendicitis (appendix pain, inflammation) information | myVMC

Appendicitis is the sudden onset of inflammation of the appendix. It causes severe abdominal pain and is treated with an operation to remove the appendix.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Appendicitis - myDr.com.au

Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. It usually starts with the main symptom of pain around the navel that moves to the lower right abdomen.

Read more on myDr website

Appendicitis in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. If your child has tummy pain that could be appendicitis, she needs to see a doctor or hospital immediately.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Appendicitis | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

What is the appendix? The appendix is a coiled, 8- 12 cm tube attached to the caecum (the first part of the large intestine or bowel)

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Kids' Health - Topics - Your appendix

Your appendix is a small tube about the same size as your little finger

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Goblet Cell Carcinoid Tumours

Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer.

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Abdominal pain in children - Better Health Channel

Children may feel stomach pain for a range of reasons and may need treatment

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Abscesses | myVMC

Medical information about abscesses, abscess peritonsillar, anal abscess, abscess perirectal, tooth abscess, abscess on buttocks and pus in abscess.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo