Do I really need that?

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Nov. 01, 2019

Much like a car’s engine, the human body relies on many internal parts to function properly.

The heart, liver, and brain are some of the vital organs needed to sustain life. But other organs are not necessarily required to live. Here are some of the more common organs that can be removed from the body when deemed medically necessary:

The appendix is a worm-shaped tube about four inches long that is attached to the large intestine in the lower right abdomen. Its main function is unknown, but surgically removing it does not appear to affect a person’s health. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix and is one of the most common causes of emergency abdominal surgery in the United States. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix can rupture, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity, which can be fatal.

The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that stores and concentrates bile, which is a liquid produced by the liver to help digest fats. The gallbladder may be surgically removed if it is inflamed or obstructed. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in the gallbladder. People who experience symptoms usually require gallbladder removal surgery. Removing the gallbladder in a healthy person typically causes no observable problems with health or digestion.

Tonsils are collections of tissue located in the back of the throat. Adenoids are located on the back wall of the throat behind the nose. Both protect the body from foreign substances that are inhaled or ingested through the nose or mouth. Some people are prone to developing infections of the tonsils and adenoids. In other instances, large adenoids and tonsils can block the airway. In each case, surgery may be necessary to remove them.

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Sometimes wisdom teeth present no problem, but often are misaligned and require removal. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, approximately 50 million Americans will need their wisdom teeth removed before age 25. This is because wisdom teeth can crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, and nerves.

Some organs in the body can be removed, but may require making lifestyle changes and taking medications. Examples include the male prostate gland, female uterus, kidney, and portions of the intestines, spleen, and pancreas.

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