By Katrina Cuevas
Definition, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
- Appendicitis is where the appendix becomes inflamed and ultimately fills up with pus. Pain can increase in severity of pain over 12 to 18 hours, and removal of the appendix is needed. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011).
- Appendix: A fingerlike pouch attached to the large intestine near the lower right area of the abdomen. The appendix does not have a specific function and can therefore be removed without affecting someone’s health (Brodsky, 2013).
- When the appendiceal lumen is blocked, mucus cannot move into the large intestine and an abundance of bacteria growth within the appendix occurs. The appendix becomes infected and can burst (Brodsky, 2013).
- Ten to 30 years old is the general age appendicitis occurs (Brodsky, 2013).
Symptoms and Diagnosis
a) Abdominal pain migrates to the lower right quadrant of the abdomen and increases when one moves, takes deep breaths, coughs, or sneezes occurs, as well as abdominal swelling (Brodsky, 2013). Fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, chills and shaking, and not being able to pass flatulence (fart) can also occur (Longstreth, 2013).
- Medical history, various tests, and physical exams are used to diagnose a patient (Brodsky, 2013).
Tests and Exams
Various tests are used to determine if the patient has appendicitis and how intense the appendicitis is, but there is not test that can tell someone within a hour, day, week, or years from now that you will suffer from appendicitis.
a) blood tests: A high white blood cell count indicates appendicitis is present in the patient.
b) urinalysis: Testing one’s urine can help to determine if the patient has appendicitis, a kidney stone, or a urinary tract infection.
c) abdominal ultrasound: Ultrasound is used to create images that help doctors to examine the appendix to see if it is inflamed, has already burst, or if the appendix has a blockage.
d) MRI: An MRI machine that produces images that are used to examine the appendix to see if it is inflamed, blocked, or about to burst.
e) CT scan: This test can produce images that show an inflamed appendix or an abscess (puss filled mass that helps contain an infection from spreading).
Treatment, Prognosis, and Prevention
- Appendicitis is typically treated by a surgery that removes the appendix, called an appendectomy. An appendectomy can be performed through a laparotomy (single incision) or laparoscopic surgery (multiple incisions, and leads to fewer complications and a shorter recovery). Antibiotics will be administered first prior to the appendectomy if abscess present (Brodsky, 2013) (Longstreth, 2013).
- Most patients recover relatively quickly if the appendix didn't rupture. If the appendix had already ruptured, it takes longer. Prior rupture can lead to an abscess, blockage in the intestine, peritonitis (abdomen infection), or an infected wound (Longstreth, 2013).
- There is no for sure way to prevent appendicitis, but it has been found that people who consume diets that are high in fiber (fruits and vegetables) are less likely to obtain appendicitis (Johnson, 2012).
- Brodsky , J. (2013). Appendicitis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), Retrieved from http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/appendicitis/index.aspx
- Bundy, D. G., Byerley, J. S., Liles, A., Perrin, E., Katznelson, J., & Rice, H. E. (2007). Does this child have appendicitis?. JAMA, 298(4), 438-451. doi: National Institutes of Health
- Johnson, K. (2012, July 20). Appendicitis. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-appendicitis
- Longstreth, G. F. (2013). Appendicitis. Medline Plus, Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000256.htm
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011, August 13). Appendicitis. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/appendicitis/basics/definition/con-20023582