Appendicitis: Symptoms & Diagnosis

Appendicitis is more common from youth to early adulthood, 10-19 years of age, with men being at a higher risk than women. The appendix is a four inch, closed tube that looks like a worm and is attached to the beginning of the large intestine, cecum (structure that looks like a pouch). Its location is close by the right ischium, ilium, and pubis (hip bone), in the lower abdomen. Most experts classify this location as the McBurney’s point.

 

Functions

 

Experts have never discovered the appendix’s true function, but they suggest that it may be linked to the immune system, because it stores good bacteria. Lymph tissue is also present, which helps the appendix reboot the digestive system, after a bout of diarrhea.

 

Etiology

 

There are several causes of appendicitis including a blockage that may be linked to infection, cancer, foreign body, or feces. Since the appendix contains lymph tissue, it will react to infection in the body, by swelling and filling with pus, which could potentially lead to a blockage.

 

Signs & Symptoms

 

Nausea & Vomiting

Fever (ranging from 100 to 102 degrees Fahreheit)

Inability to pass flatulence (gas)

Dull pain near the McBurney’s point

Loss of appetite

 

Diagnosis

 

Digital Rectal Exam (checks for lower abdominal abnormalities)

Computed tomography of the abdomen & appendix

Ultrasonography of the abdomen & appendix

Urinalysis with culture and sensitivity if indicated to rule out cystitis (bladder infection) and pyelonephritis (kidney infection)

Blood culture (detects bacteria, yeast, and microorganisms)

 

Treatment

 

The only treatment available for appendicitis is an appendectomy (removal of the appendix). If treatment is delayed the appendix may perforate (burst) and lead to more serious complications