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Treatment

The standard treatment is to remove the appendix. The surgery, called an appendectomy, should be done as soon as possible to reduce the risk of the appendix rupturing. If appendicitis is strongly suspected, a surgeon will often advise removing the appendix even if an ultrasound or CT scan cannot confirm the diagnosis. The surgeon's recommendation to operate reflects the danger of a ruptured appendix: It can be life threatening, while an appendectomy is a relatively low-risk operation.

Surgeons will frequently opt for laparoscopic surgery to remove the appendix because the average length of stay in the hospital is shorter and recovery is quicker compared to the standard surgical approach.

People usually are given antibiotics intravenously (into a vein) during surgery. The antibiotic is continued until the day after surgery. If the appendix ruptured, the person will need to take antibiotics for a week or more.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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