General and Gastrointestinal Surgery


The appendix is a narrow, hollow, finger-shaped portion of the large intestine, which hangs down from the lower right side of the bowel. The only known function of the appendix is to produce immunoglobulins, bacteria-destroying proteins that help ward off infections, though other organs in the body will take over this role if the appendix is removed.

Appendicitis, the inflammation of the appendix, usually has no known cause, though it can occur after an intestinal viral infection, or when the tube connecting the appendix to the bowel becomes blocked by stool. An appendectomy, removal of the appendix, is one of the most common surgical procedures-one out of every 2,000 people will have this surgery during their lifetime.

Laparoscopic appendectomies have become an attractive alternative to the traditional open surgical method due to less post-operative pain, faster recovery, minimized scarring and shortened hospital stay.

Although laparoscopic appendectomies have many benefits, they may not be appropriate for some patients. Laparoscopic appendectomies are more difficult to perform in the case of a ruptured appendix or advanced infection. Obese patients, and patients with a perforated appendix or a history of abdominal surgery, may not be considered candidates for a laparoscopic procedure.

Consult one of The Miriam Hospital's specialized surgeons to determine whether or not a laparoscopic appendectomy is right for you.

To learn more about why smaller is better, call 401-272-1800.

Emergency Symptoms to Not Ignore

If you are experiencing severe abdominal pain or symptoms of appendicitis (severe pain in the right lower abdomen followed by nausea, elevated temperature, constipation or diarrhea) see your doctor or visit your nearest emergency room immediately.

Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency because of the risk of rupture, which may happen as soon as 48 to 72 hours after symptoms begin.