A ruptured appendix may occur when the appendix becomes severely inflamed, a medical condition known as appendicitis. This is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately in order to reduce the risks of severe complications, including death. Common symptoms that may indicate that the appendix has ruptured or is close to rupturing include abdominal pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. Surgical removal is necessary once the ruptured appendix has been medically confirmed.
The appendix is a small pouch-like organ attached to the colon and is located in the lower right portion of the abdomen. When an intestinal blockage or infection causes the organ to swell, the patient becomes at risk for having a ruptured appendix. Fortunately, the appendix does not have a known function, so it is not at all a necessary organ to have. At the same time, an untreated ruptured appendix could have deadly consequences due to the spread of infection throughout the body.
If a ruptured appendix is suspected, the medical staff at the hospital will order a variety of tests to confirm the diagnosis. In the meantime, the patient will likely be given medications to combat pain and nausea while the tests are performed. Blood tests are useful, as a high white blood cell count can often indicate the severity of the infection present in the body. X-rays or other similar tests may be used to determine if the organ has already ruptured or if it is swollen enough to potentially rupture.
After the ruptured appendix has been diagnosed, surgery will be scheduled to remove it If the patient has not already had an IV placed, it will be done at this time. A small tube is inserted into a vein, usually in the arm. Any fluids or medications that need to be given can then be introduced directly into the bloodstream through the use of this IV.
Surgery may require the use of one large abdominal incision, known as open surgery, or several small incisions, known as laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery carries a few more risks than laparoscopic surgery, such as an increased risk of bleeding or infection, although open surgery may sometimes be necessary when the appendix has ruptured and the infection has spread to other areas of the abdomen. A patient who has suffered a ruptured appendix will usually spend several days in the hospital following surgery for close observation.