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What is an appendectomy?

An appendectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the appendix. The appendix is a thin, finger-shaped tissue attached to the cecum, which is a part of the large intestine. Its exact function is unknown. It can become inflamed or infected, a condition called appendicitis. When this occurs, you may experience fever, pain in the lower right side of your belly, nausea, and vomiting. This is an emergency because the appendix can burst and spill bacteria into your abdominal cavity and bloodstream, spreading infection to the rest of your body. This condition is called peritonitis. You should seek emergency medical attention if you think you may have symptoms of appendicitis or peritonitis.

About 5% of the U.S. population will experience appendicitis. It is more common in younger patients, such as teenagers or young adults, but can occur at any age. 

Your doctor will examine you and order tests, including blood work and imaging tests such as a computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan, to help visualize the abdominal area. If the appendix is found to be inflamed or infected, an appendectomy will likely be recommended. This is an emergency surgery to remove the appendix and limit the spread of bacteria to the rest of the body. Further information is available at

The appendix can be removed either through an open procedure or laparoscopically.

An open appendectomy involves creating a 2 to 4-inch abdominal incision and removing the appendix under direct visualization. This type of operation is usually performed if the appendix has already burst so that the abdominal cavity can be cleaned out more completely with saline fluid and limit the spread of infection to the rest of the body. The recovery time is typically longer for this type of procedure than for a laparoscopic appendectomy.  

Laparoscopic appendectomy involves the use of 2 or 3 small incisions into the abdominal cavity. A thin light and video camera, called a laparoscope, is inserted into the abdomen through one of the incision sites. This allows visualization of the abdominal cavity on a screen during the procedure. Another tube is inserted through a different incision through which the appendix is grabbed and removed by the surgeon. The smaller incision size is less painful and allows for faster healing than a larger incision. More information is available at

How painful is an appendectomy?

How serious is appendix surgery?

Can you remove your appendix without having appendicitis?

How long does it take to recover from an appendectomy?

What can you not eat after appendix surgery?

What are the long-term effects of having your appendix removed?

* Savings estimate based on a study of more than 1 billion claims comparing self-pay (or cash pay) prices of a frequency-weighted market basket of procedures to insurer-negotiated rates for the same. Claims were collected between July 2017 and July 2019. R.Lawrence Van Horn, Arthur Laffer, Robert L.Metcalf. 2019. The Transformative Potential for Price Transparency in Healthcare: Benefits for Consumers and Providers. Health Management Policy and Innovation, Volume 4, Issue 3.

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Your actual costs may be higher or lower than these cost estimates. Check with your provider and health plan details to confirm the costs that you may be charged for a service or procedure.You are responsible for costs that are not covered and for getting any pre-authorizations or referrals required by your health plan. Neither payments nor benefits are guaranteed. Provider data, including price data, provided in part by Turquoise Health.

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