Paediatrics (children's doctor), General Surgery

Appendicitis

Introduction to Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a serious condition that requires surgical treatment. It is caused by inflammation of the appendix, a pouch that is present in the large intestine.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a serious condition that requires surgical treatment. It is caused by inflammation of the appendix, a pouch that is present in the large intestine. Typically, the condition begins with generalised abdominal (tummy) pain, but after a few hours the pain migrates to the bottom right of the abdomen and intensifies. Appendicitis is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 13 people at some point in their lives. If you think you might be experiencing appendicitis, please contact a GP or your local out-of-hours service. If the pain suddenly becomes severe and spreads across the whole of your tummy, contact 999 or visit your local accident and emergency department as this may be a sign that your appendix has perforated, as potentially life-threatening complication.

What causes Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is caused by inflammation of the appendix, a worm-shaped pouch coming off the large intestine. The cause of this inflammation is not well understood and as such, there is no clear way of avoiding the problem.

Appendicitis

What are the symptoms of Appendicitis?

Appendicitis usually begins with pain in the middle of your abdomen. Within a few hours, the pain migrates to your lower right hand side and intensifies. Pressing the area, coughing or moving around may make the pain worse. You may also feel sick (nausea), vomit, lose your appetite, experience diarrhoea and have a high temperature.

These symptoms can be confused with other disorders such as gastroenteritis. Depending on their assessment, your doctor may want to wait to see how the pain develops, or carry out other investigations such as blood tests and scans.

How is Appendicitis treated?

If you have appendicitis, it is usually surgically removed in an ‘appendicectomy.’ This operation is carried out under general anaesthetic, often using a ‘keyhole’ technique. Keyhole surgery involves making a few small incisions and inserting a camera and a few surgical instruments into the abdominal cavity. This allows the appendix to be removed without making a large incision. It also speeds up recovery time. After surgery, you can usually return home within days. You may also experience some bruising, pain and constipation which should subside over time.

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