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Negligent oversight: incomplete surgery leads to recurring appendicitis despite appendix removal

Posted: 02/11/2020


The clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Cooper acts for a number of clients who have suffered from complications following the development of appendicitis. Appendicitis is the swelling of the appendix which causes pain and common symptoms are:

  • pain in the tummy
  • nausea or sickness
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • a high temperature

Confirmed appendicitis is usually treated by surgically removing the appendix and in many cases this can be done through keyhole surgery. Providing the appendix is removed before it bursts, the patient normally has very few, if any, ongoing symptoms or side effects.

Unfortunately, despite appendicitis surgery, some patients continue to experience symptoms. In many cases this is because their appendix has not been completely removed and they still have what is commonly referred to as an ‘appendix stump’.

As the patient has already had their appendix removed, the possibility of ongoing appendicitis can be overlooked, even when they re-present with ongoing symptoms, and so the patient continues to experience pain. In some cases, swelling of the appendix stump results in a significant pelvic infection and, in women, there is a risk that this can affect their fertility. Another complication resulting from a retained appendix stump is long-term abdominal pain due to the development of abdominal adhesions. Every time a patient has abdominal surgery, their chances of experiencing abdominal adhesions increases and, given recurring appendicitis is often overlooked, many patients end up having multiple surgical procedures to try to identify the cause of their pain.

Emily Hartland, an associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Cooper, comments: “We have recently settled a claim for a young woman who had a retained appendix stump. At the time of the initial appendicitis surgery, it was noted that her appendix was very small. Despite this, recurring appendicitis wasn’t considered even though she returned to hospital with appendicitis symptoms.

“Unfortunately, as a result of the appendix stump, she developed a pelvic infection and now has ongoing abdominal pain. It is also likely that she will require IVF in order to conceive. While the compensation she has received will never make up for the pain she has experienced, she now has the funds available to pay for ongoing pain management therapy and IVF. I therefore urge anyone who continues to experience ongoing abdominal pain or nausea following appendicitis surgery to get medical advice and ask whether there is a possibility that their appendix has not been completely removed.” 

To read the full report on this case, please click here.


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