Appendicitis

Meaning and definition

Appendicitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix (see the picture below). It is a medical emergency. All cases require removal of the inflamed appendix, either by laparotomy or laparoscopy. Untreated, mortality is high, mainly because of peritonitis and shock. Reginald Fitz first described acute and chronic appendicitis in 1886, and it has been recognized as one of the most common causes of severe acute abdominal pain worldwide. A correctly diagnosed non-acute form of appendicitis is known as "rumbling appendicitis".[1]

Causes

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by stool, a foreign body, or cancer. Blockage may also occur from infection, since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body.[2]

Symptoms

The symptoms of appendicitis usually include:

* pain in the right side of the abdomen
* nausea
* vomiting
* constipation
* diarrhea
* inability to pass gas
* low fever that begins after other symptoms
* abdominal swelling
* anorexia (loss of appetite)[3]

Treatments

Once a diagnosis of appendicitis is made, an appendectomy usually is performed. Antibiotics almost always are begun prior to surgery and as soon as appendicitis is suspected.

There is a small group of patients in whom the inflammation and infection of appendicitis remain mild and localized to a small area. The body is able not only to contain the inflammation and infection but to resolve it as well. These patients usually are not very ill and improve during several days of observation. This type of appendicitis is referred to as "confined appendicitis" and may be treated with antibiotics alone. The appendix may or may not be removed at a later time.[3]

Images of Appendicitis

appendicitis
appendicitis

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Notes:

[1] Wikipedia.org
[2] webmd.com
[3] keepkidshealthy.com
[4] medicinenet.com

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