Preoperative Procedures for Appendectomy

A number of tests are ordered to assess the patient's health before surgery. Usually these tests are done a few days ahead, but because of the urgency of an appendectomy, the tests and surgery are frequently performed on the same day. Preoperative tests vary according to the patient's age and health, but a blood test, chest x-ray, and electrocardiogram (EKG) are standard.

An informed consent form must be signed acknowledging that the patient understands the procedure, the potential risks, and that they will receive certain medications.

Before surgery, the anesthesiologist visits the patient to do a brief physical examination and to obtain a medical history. He or she will want to know about any other medical conditions; if the patient is taking any medication (prescription or over-the-counter); if any dietary supplements or herbal products are being used; if there has been recent illicit drug use; if the patient smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol; if the patient has a history of allergies, especially to medications; or has had a previous reaction to anesthesia, or a family history of problems with anesthesia.

Patients are required to refrain from eating or drinking after midnight on the day before surgery; however, because an appendectomy is an emergency procedure, that may not be possible. As soon as the decision is made to operate, the patient must take nothing by mouth, including oral medications.

Prior to surgery, an intravenous (IV) is started to administer fluid and medications that have been ordered, including antibiotics and pain medication. A sedative may be given to help the patient relax. Anesthesia is administered in the operating room.

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

Published: 31 Oct 2001

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015