Akshat Goel
Clinical Fellow in Paediatric Hepatology, King's College Hospital, London
First Created: 01/09/2001  Last Updated: 12/06/2021

Patient Education

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small-finger-shaped vestigial part attached to the first part of the large intestine, the colon, and is present in the right lower part of the abdomen. The appendix in present times does not serve any purpose. However, according to some theories, 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. Appendicitis occurs when appendix gets blocked due to any reason including food trapping or due to infection in the intestine. Appendicitis is not contagious.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

A person suffering from appendicitis may have sudden stomach pain initially near the umbilicus (the 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 is known as McBurney's point in the right lower abdomen.

How is appendicitis diagnosed?

Appendicitis diagnosis can be tricky. Clinical signs and symptoms aided by blood tests and ultrasound of the abdomen can reveal blockage or swell 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-laparotomy) or through a laparoscope. It is a minor procedure. In children, it is done under general anaesthesia. Laparoscopic surgery does not leave behind any scar. Recovery to normal routine takes 2-3 weeks.

Appendicitis Appendicitis 2021-12-06
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