The main treatment for appendicitis is an operation to remove the inflamed appendix, known as an appendectomy or appendicectomy. The appendix is not essential for health, and the body functions normally without one.
There are two different ways to remove the appendix:
- Laparoscopic (or keyhole surgery) — through a tiny telescope. There will be three small keyhole cuts of about 1-2cm long each.
- Open — there will be a small cut across the right lower abdomen.
Recovery time from surgery will vary depending on many factors, including the person’s general health, the type of surgery, and whether or not the appendix has burst.
Most people recover without too many troubles. Sometimes, the wound gets infected and this will need follow up by your doctor.
And sometimes, the appendix is found to be normal - not inflamed - after it is removed and this usually means there is another reason for the symptoms that are similar to appendicitis. Your doctor may discuss looking for another cause of the problem.
After surgery your doctor may recommend light activity for a few weeks until the surgical wound heals.
Sometimes antibiotics might be used instead of surgery but antibiotics don’t work in all cases and removal of the appendix is the main treatment. Antibiotics may be used if surgery is delayed, for example if you have to travel a long way to have the operation, or for patients who are not suitable for surgery such as being too frail. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before surgery to reduce the risk of infection.
If you think that you or someone in your care may have appendicitis, it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
Last reviewed: September 2018