Appendicitis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Definition of Appendicitis

Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of emergency abdominal surgery in the United States. Appendicitis generally affects people aged between 10 and 30, but it can strike at any age. Approximately 250,000 appendectomies are performed in the United States each year to treat appendicitis.

Appendicitis is swelling (inflammation) of the appendix. The appendix is a small, tube-like organ attached to the first part of the large intestine. It is located in the lower right part of the abdomen. It has no known function.

Causes of Appendicitis

Experts believe there are two likely causes:
  • Infection - a stomach infection may have found its way to the appendix.
  • Obstruction - a hard piece of stool may have got trapped in the appendix. The bacteria in the trapped stool may then have infected the appendix.

Symptoms of Appendicitis

The main symptom is pain in the abdomen, often on the right side. It is usually sudden gets worse over time. Other symptoms may include :
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Low fever

Not everyone with appendicitis has all these symptoms.

Diagnosis of Appendicitis

A diagnosis can be tricky, however, says Michael Payne, MD, a gastroenterologist with Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard-affiliated public healthcare system, in Cambridge, Mass. "It is a very common illness and many people don't have classic symptoms," he says. "We actually have to put our hands on a belly to see for sure."

Treatment of Appendicitis

If you do not have complications, a surgeon will usually remove your appendix soon after your doctor thinks you might have the condition. For information on this type of surgery, see: Appendectomy.

Because the tests used to diagnose appendicitis are not perfect, sometimes the operation will show that your appendix is normal. In that case, the surgeon will remove your appendix and explore the rest of your abdomen for other causes of your pain.

If a CT scan shows that you have an abscess from a ruptured appendix, you may be treated for infection. You will have your appendix removed after the infection and swelling have gone away.
ads

No comments:

Post a Comment