Appendicitis results when the appendix becomes infected, inflamed, or blocked. A piece of stool or ingested material can block the appendix. In some cases of appendicitis, the cause is not known. Appendicitis is an emergency medical condition and needs immediate treatment. An inflamed appendix may rupture. A ruptured appendix can lead to a fatal infection or abscess if it is not treated immediately.
If your appendix ruptures, you may actually feel better for a short time. However, a ruptured appendix may lead to an infection called peritonitis. The infection will make you feel very sick and your pain will feel worse. Your abdomen may swell and feel hard. You may not be able to pass gas. You may feel thirsty and may only pass small amounts of urine. Peritonitis is a medical emergency, and you should go to the emergency department of a hospital immediately if you experience symptoms.
Imaging tests may be used to help confirm the diagnosis of appendicitis and rule out other conditions. An abdominal X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan are commonly used. A CT scan is used to check for an abscess from a ruptured appendix.
Laparoscopic appendectomy is performed with a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin viewing instrument with a miniature camera at the end. The laparoscope is inserted through small incisions. The camera transmits images to a video screen, which a surgeon uses to guide the surgery. Thin surgical instruments are passed through the incisions to perform the procedure. Because only small incisions are necessary for laparoscopic appendectomy, this procedure is associated with less pain, less bleeding, fewer complications, and a quicker recovery than traditional surgical methods.
Recovery time is faster for people that have their appendix removed before it ruptured. A longer recovery time is associated with infections, abscesses, and ruptured appendices. In some cases, doctors may treat an infection before removing the appendix.
You may prevent complications by contacting your doctor immediately if you experience the symptoms of appendicitis.
Am I at Risk
Appendicitis can happen to anyone. It occurs most frequently between the ages of 10 and 30. A ruptured appendix is more common in children.
In rare cases, a ruptured appendix can cause death. A ruptured appendix can lead to infection and needs to be treated immediately in the emergency department of a hospital.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.