Show up in the hospital with a fever and a terrible ache near your belly, and you can count the minutes until they start hacking your appendix out.
These days, the doctors in your hospital almost certainly know the appendix doesn't actually need to be removed in most cases. They just don't have the time (or interest) to pick and choose -- so they all come out.
Plus, they don't want to be sued if they make the wrong choice and your appendix bursts like an overripe grapefruit.
But now, a new study shows they shouldn't worry so much -- because up to 80 percent of all appendixes can remain in place even after acute appendicitis if docs turn to antibiotics instead of a scalpel.
In a look at data from four studies involving some 900 patients, researchers found that 63 percent of those given antibiotics first intravenously, then by mouth, managed to keep their appendixes.
The rest did eventually get surgery, but since statistics show that only 20 percent of appendix patients have the complicated appendicitis that requires the removal of the organ, the success rate from meds alone could ultimately be as high as 80 percent.
And this is one case where meds make sense -- because you don't just avoid the knife itself. You avoid the risks that come with it: Patients on antibiotics had a 39 percent lower risk of complications, according to the study in BMJ.
You also get to keep your appendix, which might not be as useless as scientists have thought. In fact, the latest research shows it may be a "safe house" for good bacteria, so that your stomach can get back on track after an infection.
Given the growing number of dangerous stomach bugs out there these days, it might be a good idea to hang onto the keys to that safe house.