Appendicitis is a medical term given to an inflammation of the appendix, a small, finger-like organ extending from the large intestine and located in the lower right portion of the abdomen. Inflammation involving the appendix may be caused by factors such as infection or an intestinal blockage. Some of the most common symptoms of appendicitis include lower right abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment involves surgical removal of the appendix, as this organ is prone to rupture, leading to a potentially fatal medical emergency.
The first noticeable sign of appendicitis often involves a dull pain in the naval area that quickly moves to the lower right abdominal region. This dull ache tends to develop into severe pain, and nausea may develop. This nausea may become severe, leading to vomiting and a partial or complete loss of appetite. Fever may or not be present, so this is not an accurate determining factor when it comes to diagnosing the condition.
Suspected appendicitis should always be treated as a medical emergency. Untreated inflammation can cause the appendix to rupture, leading to the spread of infectious materials throughout the body. This type of widespread infection can be fatal if not treated immediately. Due to the potential risks associated with appendicitis, the only medically approved treatment for this condition is removal of the appendix. Fortunately, this organ has no known function in the human body, so there are no long-term effects on health from having the appendix removed.
Once at the hospital, the patient will likely have a tube known as an IV inserted into a vein, usually in the arm. Fluids and medications can then be introduced directly into the bloodstream through the IV. Pain medications as well as medications designed to reduce nausea are typically given. Tests may then be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis of appendicitis. After the diagnosis has been made, the patient is prepared for surgery.
Depending on the individual situation, the appendectomy may be an open or laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery requires a large incision and carries increased risks of complications, such as infection or bleeding. Laparoscopic surgery involves the use of two or three small incisions and carries less of a chance of complications and enables a quicker recovery. The hospital stay can vary from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surgery performed and whether the appendix ruptured before surgery. Any questions or concerns should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.