Postoperative Complications after Appendectomy

Paralytic ileus may occur following the operation. The bowel is normally in constant motion, digesting food and absorbing nutrients. Disturbing the bowel, even by the surgeon's just touching it, can cause the motion to come to a standstill. Fluid and gas may then cause the bowel to swell or distend. A nasogastric tube is passed through the nose and into the stomach to relieve the distension.

When bowel function returns to normal (evident by passing gas or having a bowel movement), the tube is removed. Until that time, food and liquid are not permitted by mouth, and hydration is maintained intravenously. Paralytic ileus is more common when the appendix has perforated.

Wound infection can cause the skin to become red and inflamed and pus to leak from the incision site. In this case, antibiotics are started and discharge from the hospital may be delayed, depending on the severity of the infection. On rare occasions, the site must be reopened to allow the wound to drain.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Nov 2001

Last Modified: 24 Jan 2012