Removal of the appendix, called appendectomy, is performed when appendicitis is suspected.

Right lower abdominal pain, fever and elevated white blood cell count are common symptoms and signs of appendicitis, which usually occurs when a blockage develops between the appendix and the intestine.

This leads to infection, swelling and distention.

If the appendix is not removed, it can lead to a life threatening perforation or rupture.

The only treatment for appendicitis is appendectomy, which is almost always performed on an emergency basis.

Newer laparoscopic techniques require only tiny, keyhole incisions, or puncture wounds, which generally result in a shorter recovery period.

Before your surgery, an intravenous line will be started.

Appendectomies are done under general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep for the duration of the operation.

A breathing tube will be temporarily inserted through your mouth and into your throat, to help you breathe during the operation.

A catheter may also be placed in your bladder to drain your urine.

An uncomplicated laparoscopic appendectomy usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes.

To gain access to your appendix, your surgeon will use sharp instruments, called trocars, to create three small holes, or ports through your abdominal wall.

These ports are usually located at your navel, or umbilicus, and in the upper right and lower left quadrants of your abdomen.

Carbon dioxide gas will then be pumped through the umbilical ports to puff up your abdomen, so its contents can be viewed more easily.

Next, your surgeon will insert the laparoscope through the umbilical port.

Images from its camera are projected onto a video monitor in the operating room.

Your surgeon will carefully examine the inside of your abdomen, confirming that your appendix is red, swollen and needs removal.

At this point, your surgeon will pass surgical instruments through the other two ports, grasp the appendix, separate it from the intestine, drop it into a specimen bag, and remove the specimen bag through one of the ports.

After your appendix has been safely removed, your surgeon will instill warm, sterile salt water through one of the ports into the abdomen, to cleanse the abdominal cavity and remove any traces of infection.

The salt water is then suctioned out.

Before removing the laparoscope, your surgeon will take one final look around for areas of bleeding or other damage.

When the laparoscope is removed, a port valve is left in place briefly, to allow all the carbon dioxide to escape from the abdomen.

Finally, the keyhole incisions are closed with sutures or staples and covered with bandages.

At the conclusion of the surgery, your breathing tube and catheter will be removed and you will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring, where you will be given pain medication as needed.

When you are able to drink liquids, your intravenous line will be removed.

Most patients can leave the hospital within 24 hours.