Acute Appendicitis

What is acute appendicitis?

Acute appendicitis is a condition in which the appendix, a small pouch attached to the large intestine, becomes inflamed. It is a common cause of abdominal pain and requires urgent review by a doctor. This condition typically affects children, teenagers and young adults, although it can affect people of any age. Typical symptoms are abdominal (belly) pain that begins around the belly button or lower right area of the belly, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Even if antibiotics are used in the treatment of acute appendicitis, appendectomy (removal of the appendix at surgery) is the most definite cure.

Risks

This condition typically affects children, teenagers and young adults, although it can affect people of any age.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms are abdominal (belly) pain that begins around the belly button and moves to the lower right area of the belly, as well as nausea, vomiting and a loss of appetite. Less common symptoms include diarrhea and fever. Symptoms are caused by the inflamed appendix causing irritation inside the belly.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made by a doctor assessing symptoms and examining the sick person. Blood tests and a scan (either an ultrasound or CT scan) are often needed to confirm the diagnosis. The appendix is examined by a pathologist after it is removed to confirm the diagnosis once and for all.

Treatment

Appendectomy (removal of the appendix at surgery) is the standard treatment for appendicitis. Antibiotics might needed to prevent or treat infections that occur as a result of the infected appendix.