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
What are the complications of appendicitis?
The most frequent complication of appendicitis is perforation. Perforation of the appendix can lead to a peri-appendiceal abscess (a collection of infected pus) or diffuse peritonitis (infection of the entire lining of the abdomen and the pelvis). The major reason for appendiceal perforation is delay in diagnosis and treatment. In general, the longer the delay between diagnosis and surgery, the more likely is perforation. The risk of perforation 36 hours after the onset of symptoms is at least 15%. Therefore, once appendicitis is diagnosed, surgery should be done without unnecessary delay.
A less common complication of appendicitis is blockage or obstruction of the intestine. Blockage occurs when the inflammation surrounding the appendix causes the intestinal muscle to stop working, and this prevents the intestinal contents from passing. If the intestine above the blockage begins to fill with liquid and gas, the abdomen distends and nausea and vomiting may occur. It then may be necessary to drain the contents of the intestine through a tube passed through the nose and esophagus and into the stomach and intestine.
A feared complication of appendicitis is sepsis, a condition in which infecting bacteria enter the blood and travel to other parts of the body. This is a very serious, even life-threatening complication. Fortunately, it occurs infrequently.
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