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Appendicitis

In medical terminology, the suffix '-itis' refers to inflammation. Appendix is a small 3.5inch tube that is an extension of the large intestine. Therefore, an inflammation affecting the appendix is called appendicitis.

Appendix is an essential organ although we are not aware of its proper function. When the appendix becomes inflamed, lots of complications accompany. Hence, appendicitis is treated as a medical emergency. An inflamed appendix is kept for long can burst, thereby spreading the infection to the other parts of the abdomen. This can further cause inflammation to the peritoneum (peritonitis), which is the lining in the abdominal cavity. Peritonitis can prove to be fatal, if left untreated.

In certain cases, an abscess that is filled with pus may be formed exterior to the appendix. In order to prevent the infection from spreading, tissues are developed which separates abdomen and the rest of appendix. This inflammation is very difficult to identify. Only surgeries can help in identifying this inflammation.

It can be therefore stated that all the cases of appendicitis are in need of surgery.

Appendicitis can be caused when the appendix is obstructed. The obstruction can be fecal material, cancerous body, or any other foreign material. Any sort of inflammation can also cause constriction in the appendix. It is because swelling enhances the size of the tissues blocking the passage.

Appendicitis can be diagnosed from the following set of symptoms:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen that increases in the intensity down to the lower abdomen. This can be considered as the foremost symptom of appendicitis.
  • After the onset of pain, the patient may be going green around the gills.
  • The abdomen may get swollen.
  • High temperature fever.

The aforesaid signs are the symptoms initially experienced. The symptoms that are present afterwards are as follows:

  • Intense pain present anywhere in the abdomen.
  • Urination accompanied by pain.
  • Diarrhea: Loose and watery emptying of bowels.

Diagnosis of appendicitis is quite difficult. This is primarily due to the fact that the symptoms of the condition are very similar to those experienced by other diseases like gall bladder problems, urinary tract infection, gastritis etc. The following diagnostic measures include:

  • Abdominal examination for inflammation-detection.
  • Ultrasound and CT scan.
  • Examination of the rectum.
  • Urinary exam for ruling out any urinary tract infection.

Among the treatments, surgical removal of appendix or appendectomy is commonly performed. Prior to surgery, antibiotics are administered to manage peritonitis, if any. After the period of antibiotic dosage, surgical procedures are initiated. At first, anesthesia is administered. Through an incision have a typical size of 4-inch, the appendix is taken out. If infected by peritonitis, the appendix is drained of pus. Usually, the laparoscopic techniques involve only minimum incision and are therefore much quicker to heal. This technique makes use of laparoscope, which is a thin instrument that is inserted to view the interior of the abdomen.

Definite preventive measures for this disease are unknown. However, it is observed that the prevalence of this disease is less in persons who consume more of high-fiber foods such as vegetables & fruits.