APPENDICITIS

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Last Updated : 1/6/2011
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Ira Shah
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What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is inflammation of appendix. Appendix is a small-linger-shaped vestigeal part of the large intestine present in right lower part of the abdomen. Appendix in present times has no purpose. However, in the past prior to evolution, it may have been useful to digest food.

What is the cause of appendicitis?
Appendicitis may occur in both adults and children. There is no obvious cause why appendicitis should occur. But it is occurs due to infection in the intestine or food trapping in the appendix leading to blockage. Appendicitis is not contagious.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
A person suffering from appendicitis may have stomach pain initially near the umbilicus (area around the belly button) and then in the right lower part of the abdomen. Pain may be associated with vomiting and fever. Pain may be severe enough to keep a patient awake at right. Patients prefer to lie down and curl up.

On examination, a doctor may find tenderness over a spot known as McBurney's point in the right lower abdomen.

How is appendicitis diagnosed?
Appendicitis is a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes ultrasound of the abdomen can reveal a blockage or swelling over the appendix.

What is the treatment for appendicitis?
If there is an inflamed appendix, it needs to be removed by an operation urgently. An inflamed appendix may rupture leading to infection in the entire abdomen (peritonitis), which may be life-threatening.

The operation to remove the appendix is known as appendectomy. It can be done through a mini-incision in the abdomen (known as mini-laprotomy) or through a laproscope. It is a minor procedure. In children, it is done under general anesthesia. Surgery leaves behind a minor scar. Recovery occurs within 7-10 days.



Contributor Information and Disclosures Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B J Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India


First Created : 1/9/2001
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