Appendicitis Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Surgery
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.
- Appendicitis definition and facts
- What is the appendix? Do we need it?
- What is appendicitis? What causes it?
- What are the signs and symptoms of appendicitis?
- Is there a test to diagnose appendicitis?
- Imaging studies to diagnosis appendicitis
- Which specialties of doctors treat 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?
- What is the treatment for appendicitis?
- How is an appendectomy done?
- What are the complications of appendectomy?
- Are there long-term consequences of appendectomy?
- What is new about appendicitis?
- Appendicitis FAQs
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Appendicitis definition and facts
- The appendix is a small, worm-like, tubular appendage attached to the cecum of the colon.
- Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, and bacteria invade and infect the wall of the appendix.
- The most common complications of appendicitis are rupture, abscess, and peritonitis.
- The most common signs and symptoms of appendicitis in adults and children are
- Appendicitis usually is suspected on the basis of a patient's history and physical examination; however, a white blood cell count, urinalysis, abdominal X-ray, barium enema, ultrasonography, computerized tomography (CT)0 scan, and laparoscopy also may be helpful in diagnosis.
- Due to the varying size and location of the appendix and the proximity of other organs to the appendix, it may be difficult to differentiate appendicitis from other abdominal and pelvic diseases or even during the onset of labor during pregnancy.
- The treatment for appendicitis usually is antibiotics and appendectomy (surgery to remove the appendix).
- Complications of appendectomy include wound infection and abscess.
- Other conditions that can mimic appendicitis include Meckel's diverticulitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), inflammatory diseases of the right upper abdomen (gallbladder disease, liver disease, or perforated duodenal ulcer), right-sided diverticulitis, ectopic pregnancy, and kidney diseases.
What is the appendix? Do we need it?
The appendix is a closed-ended, narrow, worm-like tube up to several inches in length that attaches to the cecum (the first part of the colon). (The anatomical name for the appendix, vermiform appendix, means worm-like appendage.) The inner lining of the appendix produces a small amount of mucus that flows through the open central core of the appendix and into the cecum. The wall of the appendix contains lymphatic tissue that is part of the immune system. Like the rest of the colon, the wall of the appendix also contains a layer of muscle, but the layer of muscle is poorly developed.
It is not clear if the appendix has an important role in the body in older children and adults. In young children it may have an immune function. There are no major, long-term health problems resulting from removing the appendix although a slight increase in some diseases has been noted, for example, Crohn's disease.
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