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What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a small, fingerlike tube that hangs from the lower right side of the large intestine. The purpose of the appendix is not known. It usually becomes inflamed because of an infection or an obstruction in the digestive tract. If untreated, an infected appendix can rupture (burst) and spread the infection throughout the abdominal

cavity and into the bloodstream.

The appendix is a small hollow organ attached to the large intestine located in the right lower part of the abdomen. Like the tonsils and adenoids, it contains a large number of lymph glands. If the appendix becomes inflamed, a condition called appendicitis results and the organ will have to be removed. The appendix is not necessary for health and can be taken out at an early age without adverse effects.

Appendicitis may occur after a viral infection in the digestive tract or when the tube connecting the large intestine and appendix is blocked or trapped by stool. Because of the risk of rupture, which may happen as soon as 48 to 72 hours after symptoms begin, appendicitis is considered an emergency and anyone with symptoms needs to see a physician immediately. Appendicitis is the most common abdominal emergency found in children and young adults. One person in 15 develops appendicitis in his or her lifetime. The incidence is highest among males aged 10-14, and among females aged 15-19. More males than females develop appendicitis between puberty and age 25. It is rare in the elderly and in children under the age of 2.

More information on appendicitis

What is appendicitis? - Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. Appendicitis is the most common abdominal emergency found in children and young adults.
What causes appendicitis? - The causes of appendicitis are believed to occur as a result of an obstruction within the appendix, the development of an ulceration, and the invasion of bacteria.
What are the symptoms of appendicitis? - The most common signs and symptoms of appendicitis are abdominal pain, tenderness, vomiting and fever.
How is appendicitis diagnosed? - Appendicitis is diagnosed based upon the patient's symptoms, a physical examination including a rectal examination, blood tests to check for signs of infection.
What's the treatment for appendicitis? - The treatment of appendicitis is an immediate appendectomy. This may be done by opening the abdomen in the standard open appendectomy technique.
How is an appendectomy done? - An appendectomy (or appendicectomy) is the surgical removal of the vermiform appendix. Appendicectomy may be performed laparoscopically or as an open operation. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005