Currently, acute appendicitis surgery is performed laparoscopically in 90% of cases. More recently, it can be performed through a single incision, at the level of the navel.
The appendix is a small tube-shaped “pocket” attached to the large intestine. It is located on the lower right side of the abdomen. The exact role of the appendix is not yet known. However, it is believed to help with recovery from diarrhea, inflammation, and infections of the small intestine and large intestine. However, the body can function very well without the appendix.
When the appendix becomes inflamed, bacteria can quickly multiply inside it and lead to the development of an infection. This build-up of bacteria and infection can cause pain around the belly button that “sags” in the lower right side of the abdomen. Walking or coughing can make the pain worse. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur.
Appendicitis needs immediate treatment because otherwise, the appendix can perforate spreading the infection into the abdominal cavity, which can be life-threatening.
How Much Does an Appendectomy Cost?
In general, the cost of an appendectomy is covered by health insurance. So, if you are covered by a health insurance policy, you will be responsible for an emergency room copay, a doctor copay, a hospital copay which is around $120 or more, a coinsurance which is anywhere between 10% and 50% for the procedure (it may reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum) and the prescription drugs copays.
On the other hand, if you don’t have health insurance, you will have to pay anywhere between $11,000 and $36,000 or even more for an appendectomy, depending on the facility you choose, whether the surgery is laparoscopic or open, and if there are any complications. For instance, the cost of an appendectomy without complications is around $8,000, including the doctor fee of almost $1,700, at the Wright Medical Center in Iowa. At the same hospital, a laparoscopy appendectomy costs less than $12,500, including the doctor fee of $1,700.
If you are living in Nebraska and choose to go to Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center for a laparoscopic appendectomy or an open appendectomy, with no abscess, you should be prepared to pay anywhere between $9,500 and $20,000, without including the doctor fees, that can be thousands of dollars. In case an abscess is present, the cost of an appendectomy will be anywhere between $16,000 and $32,000 or even more.
Appendectomy procedure overview
The plan of care for acute appendicitis is to remove the inflamed appendix and this can be done by classic (open) or laparoscopic surgery. As a rule, surgery for acute appendicitis is performed under general anesthesia.
The laparoscopic surgery requires 3 mini-incisions (two of 2 inches and one of 4 inches) through which the laparoscopic work instruments will be inserted into the abdominal cavity. The laparoscopic approach represents the “gold standard” especially in female patients (through the possibility of simultaneous exploration and treatment of genital inflammatory lesions, such as acute adnexitis and in obese patients), reducing the risk of contamination of the abdominal wall and thus reducing the risk of suppurative complications of the wall abdominal.
The “classic” approach consists of an incision of several inches in the right iliac fossa, representing the direct access path to the inflamed appendix to be excised. Postoperative recovery is fast, especially after laparoscopic surgery. Necessary and sufficient hospitalization is 24 hours.
After the surgical intervention, the resumption of food is recommended once the appetite returns, and the resumption of usual physical activities is recommended from the first postoperative day, with the comfort/discomfort level as the limit.
Not diagnosed in time, appendicitis can lead to serious complications by rupturing the appendix and leaking feces and bacteria into the abdominal cavity. This can cause painful and even life-threatening infections.
It must be said from the beginning that not every abdominal pain that appears in the lower right quadrant can be categorized as “appendicitis”. It should also be known that only in exceptional cases an acute inflammation of the appendix can pass by itself or with anti-inflammatory treatment.
So, the main clinical signs of appendicitis are:
- loss of appetite;
- pain predominantly peri-umbilical or in the upper abdominal floor (this is the phase in which inflammation of the appendix irritates the “vegetative” nerve endings and causes this diffuse abdominal pain);
- migration of pain to the lower right quadrant of the abdomen (here the pain becomes localized, therefore, on the right);
- antalgic position of the patient (that is, the patient keeps the right lower limb flexed on the abdomen, or, standing, having a “bent” position, holding the hand on the painful area in order to reduce the pain).
What are the additional costs?
You may be prescribed oral antibiotics, which, depending on the regimen, may cost around $160 or even more.
How can I save money?
If you are uninsured and pay in cash, you may get a discount of up to 40% or more from most hospitals and doctors. For instance, Washington Hospital Healthcare System in California offers a discount of 35%.
If the appendix has not ruptured the surgery may not be necessary and it can be possible to treat appendicitis only with antibiotics.
Appendicitis is not a condition that can be prevented with 100% certainty, but some steps can be taken to reduce the risk of its occurrence. Some studies have shown that in countries where the population consumes foods rich in fiber, there is a lower rate of suffering from acute appendicitis. However, further studies are needed to clarify this aspect.
Foods rich in fiber are vegetables, lentils, peas and beans, fruits, oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat, and whole grains.
In addition, good prevention is the early presentation to the family doctor or the emergency room, from the beginning of the symptoms, to avoid the potential complications of appendicitis.