Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions
Appendicitis treatment usually includes surgery to remove the appendix, called an appendectomy (ah-pen-DEK-toe-me). In many cases, this surgery will take place shortly after a child is diagnosed. Our surgery team usually performs more than 300 appendicitis surgeries each year, making it the most common emergency surgery at Seattle Children’s.
Our surgeons are specially trained in pediatric surgery, which means they understand children’s needs and how their bodies are different from adult bodies.
Surgery for Appendicitis
If your child’s appendix has burst, doctors may delay surgery so they can first give your child antibiotics.
Before surgery, we give your child medicine (general anesthesia) to make them sleep so they don’t feel pain. Our anesthesiologists have extra training in how to give pain medicine to children. This keeps surgeries as safe as possible.
The surgery takes about an hour. Your child will be in the recovery room for another hour.
After an Appendectomy
If your child’s appendix did not burst:
If your child’s appendix did not burst, they will stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days after surgery. As your child feels ready, food and activity can slowly be started. Our nurses will call and check on your child about 5 days after they leave the hospital. This helps us make sure your child is healing well. About 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, your child will need to see the surgeon for a follow-up visit. The surgeon will make sure the incision is healing and your child is recovering well.
If your child’s appendix did burst:
If the appendix has burst, your child will need a longer hospital stay, usually around 5 days. Your child will get antibiotics and fluids through an IV during their recovery, but will not be able to eat or drink right after surgery.
With either option, your child may need a tube that passes through the nose into the stomach. This is called a nasogastric tube, or NG tube. This helps keep your child’s stomach empty, allowing the intestines to rest and preventing your child from vomiting. The tube is removed once your child is ready to eat.
After your child goes home, you’ll need to keep the incision clean and dry until it heals. We will teach you how to care for the incision, explain what kinds of food or medicine to give your child and tell you if you need to limit your child’s activity for a while.
Our doctors and nurses are always available to help you and answer questions.
If you think your child has appendicitis, call your doctor immediately or bring your child to our Emergency Department. If you have questions about appendicitis treatment or care after treatment, call our General and Thoracic Surgery Department at 206-987-2794, extension 4.