What is Appendicitis?

The appendix is a 3 1/2 inch pouch of tissue that is connected to and protrudes from the large intestine. Though characterized before by physicians as a vestigial organ which evolution hasn’t been able to get rid of yet, many professionals now believe that it serves a function in the immune system.

Appendix pain is caused when the appendix gets inflamed and infected, the result is an abdominal condition called appendicitis which is characterized as a medical emergency and often results to the removal of the appendix.

An inflamed appendix which is left untreated will eventually swell and rupture causing the infection which has accumulated inside it to spill on the body. When this happens, it can lead to peritonitis which is a fatal condition described as the inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. The primary cause of appendicitis is blockage of the tube’s lumen by foreign bodies such as intestinal worms and fecal deposits. Once the lumen or pouch gets filled by these deposits, bacteria will start to leak from the pouch and cause further infections.

This condition is characterized by different symptoms and signs. The most common and usually first sign is a dull persistent pain on the upper abdomen which turns severe as it progresses on the lower right abdominal area. Other signs are fever, inability to pass gas, vomiting, nausea, painful urination, diarrhea or constipation, and cramps. Patients who experience one or more of these symptoms are advised to immediately call a doctor. It is also not advised for the individual to take any laxatives, antacids, and use heating pads because it can cause the inflamed appendix to rupture.

The problem with appendicitis is that its symptoms are similar to other abdominal problems like urinary tract infection and gastroenteritis. Usually, the physician will ask the patient about the location of pain and his/her medical history. Potential patients will also be asked to have a blood test. This laboratory exam, however, will only show if there is a high count of white blood cells in the bloodstream. Excessive number of white blood cells means that there is an infection in the body but the physician will not be able to determine in which part exactly. The same goes for the mandatory urine test so patients are recommended to have a CT scan and ultrasound.

Most patients who have appendicitis are recommended to undergo appendectomy or removal of the appendix. There are two types of this surgery namely the open appendectomy which involves the simple elimination of the appendix through incisions; and laparoscopic appendectomy which is a procedure involving a laparoscopic camera inserted in the body and the surgeon maneuvering the surgical instruments by referring to the image in the video.

Patients who undergo appendectomy are required to stay in the hospital for a couple of days which can turn to weeks if complications happen. The recovery time varies depending on the patient’s condition before surgery. Those who had their appendix ruptured before removal may take a while to recover. Patients are also advised to take painkillers and antibiotics to stop infection in the system.