Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix and can lead to severe abdominal pain. The appendix is a tube of tissue that extends from the large intestine.
Although many do not know what the function of the appendix is, we do know that we can live without it. Therefore, we know that if we develops appendicitis, removing it is safe and won’t hinder our health.
Although we may not need the appendix, when the appendix becomes inflamed it is a serious condition that requires emergency surgery.
If untreated the appendix can burst, which can send toxins into the body and abdomen. If this occurs it can lead to peritonitis – inflammation of the abdominal cavity.
Appendicitis is caused when a blockage occurs in the appendix, usually produced by stool, a foreign body or cancer. Infection, too, can contribute to blockages in the appendix because the appendix can swell and become inflamed with the presence of an infection.
More specific causes of appendicitis include:
Symptoms of appendicitis include:
To determine if you have appendicitis or another condition, you need to be able to recognize the type of abdominal pain felt in appendicitis, so you will know the difference.
Appendicitis abdominal pain begins as dull pain around the belly button but can move to the right lower abdomen closer to your appendix. Appendicitis pain can also:
Appendicitis is diagnosed by tenderness in the lower right part of the abdomen, along with other tests that your doctor will perform. Diagnostic testing for appendicitis includes:
Depending on the severity of the appendicitis, surgery may not be required. Instead, antibiotics and fluids may be the course of treatment. Generally, though, because we do not require our appendix, surgery is performed to remove it.
Surgery can either be open or laparoscopy, which is less invasive. In laparoscopy surgery recovery time is quicker.
Due to the fact that we don’t need our appendix, it is more common to surgically remove it; however, research has shown that in uncomplicated appendicitis surgery may not be necessary. The study randomly assigned antibiotics treatment to patients with appendicitis and found that at the one year follow-up period the patients did not require surgery, and those who received the surgery did not experience significant complications. But when the two treatment methods were compared, antibiotic treatment did not prove to be better than traditional treatment methods.
The authors wrote, “To our knowledge, the APPAC trial is the largest multicenter, open-label, noninferiority [randomized controlled trial] of antibiotic treatment for appendicitis conducted to date. When the trial was designed, we assumed that there would be sufficient benefits from avoiding surgery and that a 24 percent failure rate in the antibiotic group would be acceptable. Instead, we found a failure rate of 27.3 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 22.0-33.2 percent) and were not able to establish the noninferiority of antibiotic treatment for appendicitis.”
The researchers found that 72.7 percent of patients with uncomplicated appendicitis recovered solely from the antibiotics treatment. Those in the antibiotics group had longer hospital stays, but the researchers point out in the future this length of time could be shortened.
The authors also note the importance of CT imaging in diagnosing appendicitis to truly know which treatment methods should be utilized. CT scans can clarify the severity of appendicitis, helping doctors choose a course of treatment. The authors wrote, “Another feature of our study was the low negative appendectomy rate attributable to CT imaging. Use of CT also enabled us to identify uncomplicated acute appendicitis that was successfully treated with antibiotics alone in the majority of patients enrolled in our study.”
Although appendicitis does require immediate medical attention, there are important things to note about recovery and when the symptoms first arise.
Your doctor will help you make a recovery plan after treatment has been conducted. Although you may be sore for a few days, non-invasive surgery recovery time is much shorter, which means you can get back to the things you enjoy.