“The appendix. Now what is this is little closed ended tube at the end of our cecum? Does it serve any function whatsoever? The answer is that scientists have been stumped at what essential purpose the appendix has. Just because we can live without it does not mean that it can’t cause problems. Appendicitis is a condition where your appendix becomes inflamed and filled with pus. Appendicitis is a condition, that once found requires immediate surgery. If this is not treated quickly, your appendix will eventually burst, spilling poisonous material into your abdominal cavity.
A condition called peritonitis, a serious swelling of your abdominal cavity’s lining due to the poisonous material which was spread will be fatal unless treated promptly with very strong antibiotics. Another form of appendicitis, which is called an “abscessed appendix” is where a pus filled abscess ( an infection which is isolated from the rest of the body) forms outside the swollen appendix. Then scar tissue forms around the appendix preventing it from spreading any sort of infection to the abdominal cavity.
An abscessed appendix is not as serious as a normal case of appendicitis but in order to determine if you do indeed have appendicitis or just an abscessed appendix requires surgery. This is why all cases to do with appendix’s are considered emergencies and treated without delay. On average in Canada, 1 in 15 people will develop Appendicitis. It can happen at any age, it is rare under the age of two, and happens most of the time to people between ages ten and thirty.
Though the causes of appendicitis are not always clear, they are sometimes the result of two things: and obstruction, or an infection. An obstruction may occur when food waster or a hard piece of fecal stool can become trapped in an orifice or the cavity that the runs the length of your appendix and colon. An infection may occur when you get a gastrointestinal viral infection, or it can come of other types of inflammations in your abdominal cavity. As with both of these cases, bacteria may follow rapidly, causing the appendix to become swollen and filled with pus and it will rupture.
My sister had her appendix removed when she was 11, and was lucky to not have it burst yet, but it was inflamed, although I am not sure which one of these causes she had. The only really big sign or symptom of appendicitis is pain. When you first start to feel your pain, it is an aching pain around your belly button that often later on moves to around your lower right abdomen. When the swelling moves to nearby tissue, the pain becomes sharper, and constant. Later on, the pain usually tends to settle at the McBurney point, which is near your appendix in your lower right abdomen.
The McBurney point is halfway between the top of your right pelvic bone, and your belly button. The pain will get worse if you do things like coughing, walking or make other quick sudden movements. For some people the pain will diminish slightly if you lie on your side, and try to bring your knees towards your chest. Although not major, there are a few other symptoms you may experience with appendicitis: nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, a low-grade fever, constipation, inability to pass gas, diarrhea and abdominal swelling.
The risk factors for appendicitis are having a family history of appendicitis, which may cause one to be more susceptible to the illness, especially males. Also, having cystic fibrosis seems to put the person at a higher risk. Unfortunately, the pain from appendicitis may change from time to time, so establishing a diagnosis may be tough. Also, abdominal pain may also arise from other health problems other than appendicitis. Some of these conditions are: ectopic pregnancy, certain ovarian cysts, kidney stones and Crohn’s Disease.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus, and is known to cause similar pain. Some ovarian cysts, specifically a right-sided ovarian cyst, produces pain in the same general area that appendicitis does. Sometimes, a stone from the right kidney will pass into the ureter, which runs from the kidney to the bladder, and get stuck. This will cause considerable pain that may mimic appendicitis. Crohn’s Disease is a condition that causes chronic swelling of the digestive tract, which can seem to be like appendicitis.
When making a diagnosis on whether you have appendicitis or not, a doctor will recommend these procedures: blood test, urine test and imaging tests. A blood test allows the doctor to check to check for a high white blood cell count, which may indicate if your appendix is infected. For a urine test you will have a urinalysis to make sure that a urinary tract infection or a kidney stone isn’t actually what is the problem. An imaging test is an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound scan to help confirm appendicitis or find other causes for the pain you are experiencing.
The ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves and computer technology to provide images of your internal organs, thus seeing if you have an inflamed appendix. The complications of appendicitis are quite serious. By far the most serious complication of appendicitis is if your appendix bursts and the contents of your intestines and infectious organisms seep into the abdominal cavity lining. This will cause an infection of the lining of the cavity called “peritonitis”. Peritonitis is a very serious condition, and if not treated immediately ( in a matter of a couple hours), it will be fatal.
After your appendix bursts, you may suddenly feel better, and free of pain. Soon afterward, your entire abdomen may become distended with gas and fluid and will likely feel tight, hard and tender. There will also be pain throughout your abdomen, but you will not have the severe, localized pain of appendicitis. There have also been cases where you may not be able to pass gas or have a bowel movement because of the swelling. The other signs and symptoms may include a fever, thirst and not being able to pee.
Occasionally the infection and the seeping of intestinal contents may form an abscess, which is a walled-off area of infection. Also know as “appendiceal abscess”. The abscess may be as small as a gum ball, or as large as a grapefruit. Despite its size, it requires treatment before the abscess itself produces a hole, causing peritonitis in your abdominal cavity. The treatment of appendicitis is a surgery called an appendectomy.
Depending on the doctor, he may perform traditional open surgery, using a single abdominal incision, or laparoscopic surgery, which requires only a few small abdominal incisions. For a laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon inserts a laparoscope, which is a pencil-thin tube with its own lighting system and video camera into your abdomen through a hollow instrument called a “cannula”. For this procedure, only a small incision is required. The tiny video camera then produces a magnified view of the inside of your abdomen on an outside computer screen.
This allows the surgeon to see the inside of your abdomen vividly. Then to remove your appendix, the surgeon uses tiny surgical instruments inserted through one or two separate small abdominal incisions.
Generally speaking, laparoscopic surgery allows you to recover faster and heal with less scar tissue. Unfortunately, if your appendix has burst and infection has spread beyond the appendix, or if an abscess is present, you’ll need a larger incision so that your surgeon can clean the abdominal cavity of the hazardous material that is now present. Every now and then, the surgeon may find a normal-appearing appendix and no other cause for the patient’s problems. If this is the situation, the surgeon may remove the appendix.
Reason being, is that in these cases it is better to remove a normal-appearing appendix than to miss and not treat appropriately an early or mild case of appendicitis. The appendix this seemingly unimportant object in our body, has no important value whatsoever, yet from what you have just read can be fatal if it ruptures. Hopefully this paper has given you a good insight on what appendicitis is, the signs and symptoms, and what you can do if you if you think you have appendicitis. ”