What is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a thin, worm-shaped pouch attached to the large intestine (colon).
Appendicitis means inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a short, finger-shaped pouch about 5-10 cm long.
When someone has appendicitis their appendix may fill with pus, swell up and become painful. The appendix may even burst, which can lead to a serious infection (called peritonitis) in the abdomen.
Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of your tummy (abdomen) that may come and go.
Within hours, it becomes constant and severe.
Other symptoms include:
- Feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting
- Being sick
- Loss of appetite
- Have constipation or diarrhea
Anyone with severe or worsening pain in the abdomen should seek urgent medical attention.
A doctor will initially do a physical exam to determine whether the abdomen is tender and where the pain is located. They will also ask questions about the symptoms and your medical history. The doctor will do several tests to rule out other medical conditions that have the same symptoms.
The tests used to rule out these conditions include:
- Blood tests
- A pelvic exam
- A pregnancy testfor women
- Urinalysis or urine test to check if there is bladder infection
- ComputerizedTomography (CT) scan
- Abdominal ultrasound to see if the appendix is swollen or not
If you have appendicitis, your appendix usually needs to be removed as soon as possible. This operation is known as an appendectomy or appendicectomy.
An appendectomy is usually performed using Laparoscopic surgery, which is minimally invasive. It is also known as keyhole surgery and is performed under general anesthetic.
Appendicitis cannot be prevented but it appears to be less common in people who eat foods that are high in fibre such as fruits and vegetables.