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 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
Which specialties of doctors treat appendicitis?
A person with appendicitis may be seen first by generalists such as family practitioners, internists, and pediatricians, but he or she also may first be seen by surgeons, particularly general surgeons. Once appendicitis is suspected, a general surgeon almost always in called in consultation and in case surgery is necessary.
Why can it be difficult to diagnose appendicitis?
It can be difficult to diagnose appendicitis. The position of the appendix in the abdomen may vary. Most of the time the appendix is in the right lower abdomen, but the appendix, like other parts of the intestine, has a mesentery. This mesentery is a sheet-like membrane that attaches the appendix to other structures within the abdomen. If the mesentery is large, it allows the appendix to move around. In addition, the appendix may be longer than normal. The combination of a large mesentery and a long appendix allows the appendix to dip down into the pelvis (among the pelvic organs in women). It also may allow the appendix to move behind the colon (called a retro-colic appendix). In either case, inflammation of the appendix may appear to be more like the inflammation of other organs, for example, of a woman's pelvic organs.
The diagnosis of appendicitis also can be difficult because other inflammatory problems may mimic appendicitis, for example, right side diverticulitis. Therefore, it is common to observe patients with suspected appendicitis for a period of time to see if the problem will resolve on its own or develop characteristics that more strongly suggest appendicitis or, perhaps, another condition.
What is stump appendicitis?
When the appendix is removed surgically, a small portion may be left behind. This piece of appendix may become inflamed and is prone to develop all of the complications of appendicitis. Thus, it is possible for individuals who have had their appendix "removed" to develop another episode of appendicitis. Stump appendicitis is treated similarly to appendicitis with an intact (surgically unremoved) appendix. It is important to consider early and diagnose stump appendicitis since inadequate diagnosis and treatment can result in a rupture of the inflamed stump.
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