Appendix is a small pouch-like sac of tissue, which extends from the large intestine and located at the lower right side of the abdomen. Officially it is named vermiform appendix, meaning “worm-like appendage”, and is known to harbour bacteria. The lymphatic tissue in the appendix helps in functioning of the immune system.
Cause of Appendicitis
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix that occurs when stool, mucus or a combination of both block its opening that leads to the caecum. As a result, bacteria proliferating in the trapped area infects the lining of the appendix and swells it causing pain around the lower right area of the abdomen.
Complications in Appendicitis
- Leaving an inflamed appendix untreated is hazardous as it may perforate or eventually burst causing accumulation of pus around the appendix or affecting the abdominal and pelvic lining (peritonitis)
- The inflamed appendix may sometimes interfere with the working of intestinal muscle and prevent bowel movement. The blockage of liquid and gas in the intestine often results in nausea, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. In order to drain the blocked contents a nasogastric tube is inserted through the nose down the oesophagus into the stomach and intestine
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Appendicitis
As per the gastroenterologist Michael Payne, MD at Cambridge Health Alliance, diagnosis of appendicitis is tricky. He conveys that many people do not have the basic symptoms and the doctor needs to feel the belly to confirm. It is diagnosed by doing an abdominal x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan or a white blood cell count (which would show a higher value in the presence of infection).
In order to prevent the appendix pain from escalating to a higher level, one should seek immediate care. At the onset of the following symptoms, one should visit the doctor and if needed book surgery packages online:
Fever, chills, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea
Appendicitis pain mostly starts at the lower-right side of the abdomen and spreads to the lower abdomen. It gets worse when you move, walk, cough or sneeze. The severity of the pain may increase within a few hours. If it is so, it is quite possible that the appendix is on the verge of bursting or it already has. It often causes 103-degree fever accompanied by chills, mild nausea and low appetite. Call the doctor if all these symptoms occur together and you see no signs of improvement.
Constipation or diarrhoea
Be alarmed if you have mild diarrhoea with lot of mucus in addition to fever and abdominal pain.
Gas and bloating
Call your doctor if you have a lot of gas and feel bloated for more than a couple of days, along with difficulty in passing gas and bowel movement.
When you have fever, nausea and pain, try applying pressure on the lower-right part of the abdomen and feel the pain when releasing it. If it hurts, do not repeat and see your doctor.
Frequent use of bathroom
The appendix is located in the lower part of the pelvis and positioned close to the bladder. The inflamed appendix may affect the bladder, making it irritable, as said by Cedrek McFadden, (MD, certified GI surgeon). The inflamed bladder may cause the urge to pee constantly and it feels painful when you do. It may be a urinary tract infection if not coupled with other appendicitis symptoms.
What Is an Appendectomy?
Appendectomy is the term used simultaneously for an appendix operation where the inflamed appendix is surgically removed from the body. An appendectomy needs to be performed promptly to avoid swelling and peritonitis from developing. The procedure is performed either through open or laparoscopic appendectomy. The doctor makes the decision based on certain factors like:
- Severity of appendicitis
- Medical history
- Patient comfort and choice
- Intra-operative and post-operative complications
- Time until resuming diet
The two kinds of procedures involved in appendicitis surgery is briefed below:
1. Open Appendectomy
This procedure is preferred when the appendix has ruptured and infection spread to other organs. It is also preferred for people who have been through abdominal surgery earlier. In this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the lower right side of the abdomen. This type permits the doctor to clean the abdominal cavity in case of a ruptured appendix. The appendix is removed and wound covered with stitches.
2. Laparoscopic Appendectomy
Laparoscopic appendectomy is the best for older and overweight people. It has lesser risks and short recovery time. This type of surgery involves the following steps:
- Small incisions made in the abdomen
- A narrow tube called cannula is inserted to inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas for a better view of the appendix
- A laparoscope is inserted through the incision having high-intensity light and a high-resolution camera in the front, which displays the images on screen to guide the surgeon
- The appendix is tied off and removed and small incisions closed and dressed
Removal of the appendix does not cause any major or long-term health problems in our body, except for a slight increase in some diseases such as Crohn’s disease. Many people recover from appendicitis with little or no difficulty. Complete recovery may take up to 4-6 weeks during which you will be recommended to limit your physical activities so that the body is healed.