Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Appendicitis facts
- What is the appendix?
- What is appendicitis and what causes appendicitis?
- What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
- How is appendicitis diagnosed?
- Imaging studies to diagnosis appendicitis
- Why can it be difficult to diagnose appendicitis?
- What is stump appendicitis
- What are the complications of appendicitis?
- What other conditions can mimic appendicitis?
- How is appendicitis treated?
- How is an appendectomy done?
- What are the complications of appendectomy?
- Are there long-term consequences of appendectomy?
- What is new about appendicitis?
- Pictures of Appendicitis & Appendectomy - Slideshow
- Medical Illustrations of Appendix Image Collection
- Take the Appendicitis Quiz
- Appendicitis FAQs
- Find a local Doctor in your town
How is appendicitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of appendicitis begins with a thorough history and physical examination. Patients often have an elevated temperature, and there usually will be moderate to severe tenderness in the right lower abdomen when the doctor pushes there. If inflammation has spread to the peritoneum, there is frequently rebound tenderness. Rebound tenderness is pain that is worse when the doctor quickly releases his or her hand after gently pressing on the abdomen over the area of tenderness.
White blood cell count
The white blood cell count in the blood usually becomes elevated with infection. In early appendicitis, before infection sets in, it can be normal, but most often there is at least a mild elevation even early in the process. Unfortunately, appendicitis is not the only condition that causes elevated white blood cell counts. Almost any infection or inflammation can cause this count to be abnormally high. Therefore, an elevated white blood cell count alone cannot be used to confirm a diagnosis of appendicitis.
Urinalysis is a microscopic examination of the urine that detects red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. Urinalysis usually is abnormal when there is inflammation or stones in the kidneys or bladder. The urinalysis also may be abnormal with appendicitis because the appendix lies near the ureter and bladder. If the inflammation of appendicitis is great enough, it can spread to the ureter and bladder leading to an abnormal urinalysis. Most patients with appendicitis, however, have a normal urinalysis. Therefore, a normal urinalysis suggests appendicitis more than a urinary tract problem.
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