Appendectomy and Appendicitis

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Appendectomy facts

  • The appendix is a small, worm-like appendage attached to the colon (large intestine).
  • Appendicitis occurs when bacteria invade and infect the wall of the appendix.
  • The most common complications of appendicitis are abscess and peritonitis.
  • The most common manifestations of appendicitis are pain, fever, and abdominal tenderness.
  • Appendicitis usually is suspected on the basis of a patient's history and physical examination; however, a white blood cell count, urinalysis, abdominal x-ray, barium enema, ultrasonography, CT, and laparoscopy also may be helpful in diagnosis.
  • Due to the varying size and location of the appendix and the proximity of other organs to the appendix, it may be difficult to differentiate appendicitis from other abdominal and pelvic diseases.
  • The treatment for appendicitis usually is antibiotics and removal of the appendectomy.
  • Complications of appendectomy include wound infection, abscess, multiple abscesses and possible sepsis (bacteria in the bloodstream).

What is the appendix?

The appendix is a closed-ended, narrow tube that attaches to the cecum (the first part of the colon, also know as the large intestine) like a worm. (The anatomical name for the appendix, vermiform appendix, means worm-like appendage.) The inner lining of the appendix produces a small amount of mucus that flows through the appendix and into the cecum. The wall of the appendix contains lymphatic tissue that is part of the immune system for making antibodies. Like the rest of the colon, the wall of the appendix also contains a layer of muscle.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/27/2014

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Appendix Treatment

How is appendicitis treated?

Once a diagnosis of appendicitis is made, an appendectomy usually is performed. Antibiotics almost always are begun prior to surgery and as soon as appendicitis is suspected.

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