Appendicitis

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Appendicitis facts

  • The appendix is a small, worm-like appendage attached to the colon.
  • Appendicitis occurs when bacteria invade and infect the wall of the appendix.
  • The most common complications of appendicitis are rupture, abscess, and peritonitis.
  • The most common symptoms of appendicitis are abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, 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 scan, 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 appendectomy (surgery to remove the appendix).
  • Complications of appendectomy include wound infection and abscess.
  • Other conditions that can mimic appendicitis include Meckel's diverticulitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), inflammatory diseases of the right upper abdomen (gallbladder disease, liver disease, or perforated duodenal ulcer), right-sided diverticulitis, and kidney diseases.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/21/2013

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Appendicitis Symptoms

The main symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain. The pain is at first diffuse and poorly localized, that is, not confined to one spot. (Poorly localized pain is typical whenever a problem is confined to the small intestine or colon, including the appendix.) The pain is so difficult to pinpoint that when asked to point to the area of the pain, most people indicate the location of the pain with a circular motion of their hand around the central part of their abdomen.

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