Appendicitis

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideAppendicitis & Appendectomy Pictures Slideshow

Appendicitis & Appendectomy Pictures Slideshow

What are the complications of appendectomy?

The most common complication of appendectomy is infection of the wound, that is, of the surgical incision. Such infections vary in severity from mild, with only redness and perhaps some tenderness over the incision, to moderate, requiring only antibiotics, to severe, requiring antibiotics and surgical treatment. Occasionally, the inflammation and infection of appendicitis are so severe that the surgeon will not close the incision at the end of the surgery because of concern that the wound is already infected. Instead, the skin closing is postponed for several days to allow the infection to subside with antibiotic therapy and make it less likely for infection to occur within the incision. Wound infections are less common with laparoscopic surgery.

Another complication of appendectomy is an abscess, a collection of pus in the area of the appendix or pelvis. Although abscesses can be drained of their pus surgically, there are also non-surgical techniques, as previously discussed.

Are there long-term consequences of appendectomy?

It is not clear if the appendix has an important role in the body in older children and adults. There are no major, long-term health problems resulting from removing the appendix although a slight increase in some diseases has been noted, for example, Crohn's disease.

What is new about appendicitis?

Recently, it has been hypothesized that some episodes of appendicitis-like symptoms, especially recurrent symptoms, may be due to an increased sensitivity of the intestine and appendix from a prior episode of inflammation. That is, the recurrent symptoms are not due to recurrent episodes of inflammation. Rather, prior inflammation has made the nerves of the intestines and appendix or the central nervous system that innervate them more sensitive to normal stimuli, that is, with stimuli other than inflammation. This will be a difficult, if not impossible, hypothesis to confirm.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/24/2016

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