Abdomen | Emergency Medicine | Appendicitis (Disease)


Appendicitis is inflammation affecting the appendix, the small, blind-ended tube attached to the first section of the large intestine. It is classified as a medical emergency and many cases require removal of the inflamed appendix, either by laparotomy or laparoscopy.

The symptoms of appendicitis can vary. The first symptom is often pain around your belly button. The pain may be minor at first, but it becomes more sharp and severe. The appetite will be reduced, and you may have nausea, vomiting, and a low fever. Later symptoms include: chills, constipation, diarrhea, fever, nausea, shaking and vomiting.

Causes and Risk factors

The most common complications of appendicitis are abscess and peritonitis. Appendicitis usually occurs when the appendix becomes blocked by feces, a foreign object, or rarely, a tumor. The closed end of the appendix beyond the obstruction then becomes infected with bacteria and inflamed.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors can usually diagnose appendicitis by: description of the symptoms, physical exam and lab tests. In some cases, other tests may be needed, including: adominal CT scan or adominal ultrasound.

The usual treatment is removal of the appendix by minimally invasive surgery or by conventional open surgery. If treatment is delayed, the appendix may rupture, and intestinal matter containing a high concentration of bacteria can leak into the abdomen. The result may be peritonitis. Other complication include: abnormal connections between abdominal organs or between these organs and the skin surface (fistula), abscess, blockage of the intestine, infection of the surgical wound. ...

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