What to Expect Following a Pediatric Appendectomy

What is a Pediatric Appendectomy

An appendectomy is a surgery to remove the appendix. The appendix is attached to the intestine and is located in the lower right area of the abdomen. Appendicitis in children, teens, and young adults is very common. It often occurs when a blockage occurs leading to inflammation and infection. There are two methods to remove the appendix. One is open surgery in which a larger incision is made and the appendix is removed. Alternatively the more popular type of pediatric appendectomy is laparoscopic. This is the preferred method as it: 

  • Is less painful 
  • Results in a shorter hospital stay
  • Leads to quicker return to normal bowel function
  • Heals faster
  • Less scarring

In most cases surgeons operate through three small incisions near the childs belly button and above the pubic area near the hip bone. A camera captures the surgery internally and projects it on a screen. The surgeon will also will insert a tube and slowly inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide in order create room for the procedure. The surgery generally takes about one hour. Most patients go home within 24 to 36 hours after the surgery. In cases where the appendix becomes infected from a rupture he or she will be in the hospital from five to seven days.

What to expect before and during a Pediatric Appendectomy

Because this surgery is usually an emergency surgery, there may not be much time to prepare. The care team will want to know when the child’s last meal was. If this is a surgery that is planned, then your doctor will tell you when to stop eating and drinking prior to the procedure because having food in the stomach can cause problems when your child is under anesthesia. Often time your care team will give your child an injection to relax your child and insert the IV port to allow for the next injection of anesthesia. 

What to expect following the removal of your childs appendix

Once the surgery is complete your child will be brought to a recovery room to relax while the anesthesia wears off. There will likely be abdominal pain for which acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be administered. Stronger pain medication is often prescribed before going home. Your child will be put on a liquid diet for one to two days and upon your doctors clearance he or she may return slowly to their regular diet. 

The incision generally takes one to two weeks to heal barring any complications. Your care giver will give instructions on how to clean and dress the wound. They should review how to keep the wound dry during bathing and showering. They will advise that prolonged exposed or submersion into water s not a good idea until cleared by your doctor. Be sure to speak to your caregivers if your child develops a fever or has any abdominal issues like diarrhea, vomiting, or becomes constipated. It is important to monitor the wound and surrounding area. Be aware of redness, swelling, bleeding, or excessive fluids. 

After one to two weeks your child may be cleared to return to school. It is advisable that he or she not carry a heavy backpack. Light exercise is generally encouraged, but any heavy lifting is always advised against. Soon after, with your doctors permission, he or she may return to physical activity such as gym class, and after school sports. In some cases it could take three to four weeks.

Gentle, Waterproof Medical Tape for your Childs Appendicitis Wound Dressing

During the healing process if your childs skin should react negatively to the tape or adhesive on the wound dressing we would recommend trying Hy-Tape. Not only is our tape gentle, latex free, and infused with zinc oxide, but it is waterproof. Our tape comes in several widths and formats to accommodate your needs. If you have any questions we hope that you will reach out to us by calling 1-800-248-0101, or use our contact form.