Photo by Amos from on Unsplash

Vindication for the Appendix: This ‘Useless’ Organ Finally Gets Its Day in Court

Michael Hunter, MD
Published in
6 min readJun 19, 2024


I remember the call from when I worked in Seattle. My 10-year-old daughter was in the emergency department in Portland, Oregon.

No problem, I thought.

Get the appendix out.

I know, I know.

While appendicitis can be a time-sensitive condition due to the risk of rupture, a randomized clinical trial suggests antibiotics might offer an alternative to surgery (appendectomy) for uncomplicated cases.

However, surgery remains the standard approach in the United States.

Nina didn’t need her appendix, right? It’s a vestigial organ without function, isn’t it?

For over a century, the appendix has been relegated to the realm of the “useless organs,” destined for removal with little fanfare.

Surgeons in the operating room remove an appendix.
Photo by JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash

But recent scientific discoveries are casting doubt on this long-held belief. In the grand court of human anatomy, the appendix is finally getting its day.

Was I Wrong?



Michael Hunter, MD

I have degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Penn. I am a radiation oncologist in the Seattle area. You may find me regularly posting at