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What is appendicitis?

The appendix is located in the lower right part of the abdomen, originating in the large intestine. The appendix produces antibodies, though on a small-scale.

Appendicitis is a serious condition if not treated in time and a common reason for emergency surgery.


SYMPTOMS OF APPENDICITIS

Symptoms of appendicitis vary a lot and it can be difficult to diagnosis it in small children, elderly people and women of child-bearing age.

The first symptom is often a sharp pain in the navel. This pain is normally light at first, but then becomes sharper and more serious. There might also be a lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fever.

The pain tends to spread to the lower right part of the abdomen and be concentrated at a point directly above the appendix called McBurney’s point. This most often occurs 12 to 14 hours after the beginning of the disease. The pain can get worse when the person walks, coughs or makes sudden movements.

The symptoms of appendicitis that can appear later are: chills, trembling, constipation or diarrhea and vomiting.

It is very important to seek immediate medical attention when there is any symptom of appendicitis, because if the appendix bursts, it can lead to peritonitis.


DIAGNOSING APPENDICIS

In order for the doctor to make a correct diagnosis of appendicitis, it is important for you to correctly describe the symptoms you are experiencing. Furthermore, the doctor should carry out the following tests:

1.- Level of pain: if you have appendicitis, the pain will increase when the doctor presses lightly above the lower quadrant of the abdomen. If the appendix has ruptured, touching the belly area can cause a lot of pain.

2.- Rectal exploration: the doctor can make a more accurate diagnosis if there is sensitivity on the right side of the rectum.

3.- Blood test: if this test shows a high count of white blood cells, it could suggest that there is appendicitis.

4.- Imaging studies: a computed tomography (CT scan) and a abdominal ultrasound can help make an accurate diagnosis of appendicitis.

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Freguently Ask Questions

Abdominal pain that begins around the navel and is located in the lower right part of the abdomen. Nausea, vomiting, fever, poor appetite, and weakness.

The main diagnosis is the evaluation by a specialist in surgery and blood studies should be taken identifying elevation of white blood cells, urine test as well as abdominal ultrasound or tomography.

Always the treatment of appendicitis is to perform surgery to remove the appendix either by laparoscopic appendectomy or open technique.

Dr. Sergio del Hoyo is a specialist in appendicitis surgery and a gastroenterologist surgeon.