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Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Appendicitis

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Treatment for appendicitis is surgery to remove the appendix, called an appendectomy. In many cases, this surgery will take place shortly after the diagnosis is made.

Appendicitis Treatment Options

If doctors believe the appendix has already burst and the belly is badly infected, they sometimes delay surgery and give bacteria-killing medicine (antibiotics) first. The timing of your child's appendectomy depends on your child's condition and response to treatment.

Either way, the surgery takes about an hour. Your child will be in the recovery room for another hour. We will give them pain medicine to make them comfortable.

After an Appendectomy

If the appendix has not burst, your child will stay in the hospital for one to two days after surgery. Your child will get antibiotics through an IV (intravenous line) right after surgery.

If the appendix has burst, your child will need a longer stay in the hospital, probably about five to 10 days. Your child will get antibiotics and fluids through an IV during this time. Your child may also need a tube that passes through the nose into the stomach. This is called a nasogastric tube, or NG tube. The NG tube will help keep your child's stomach empty for a few days and allow the intestines to rest. Your child will not be able to eat or drink right away after surgery because it would likely cause vomiting. The NG tube helps prevent this.

After your child goes home, you'll need to keep the incision clean and dry until it heals. The surgery team 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.

About two to three 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.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

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Download Summer 2014 (PDF)