Appendicitis

How is appendicitis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of appendicitis begins with a thorough history and physical examination. Patients often have an elevated temperature, and there usually will be moderate to severe tenderness in the right lower abdomen when the doctor pushes there. If inflammation has spread to the peritoneum, there is frequently rebound tenderness. Rebound tenderness is pain that is worse when the doctor quickly releases his or her hand after gently pressing on the abdomen over the area of tenderness.

White Blood Cell Count

The white blood cell count in the blood usually becomes elevated with infection. In early appendicitis, before infection sets in, it can be normal, but most often there is at least a mild elevation even early in the process. Unfortunately, appendicitis is not the only condition that causes elevated white blood cell counts. Almost any infection or inflammation can cause this count to be abnormally high. Therefore, an elevated white blood cell count alone cannot be used to confirm a diagnosis of appendicitis.

Reviewed on 4/30/2014

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