The appendix is a small dead end tube that appears in the large intestine, near the cecum, on the right side of the abdomen. It is considered a vestigial organ with no known function, so you can live normally and healthily without the appendix. However, there are some proposals for possible functions related to the immune system and maintenance of intestinal flora.
appendicitis or inflammation of the appendix, usually starts with a blockage or obstruction of the appendix by fecal material, mucus, parasites, cancer or other foreign bodies. The obstruction facilitates the rapid growth of bacteria inside it, causing infection, inflammation of the organ and, usually, pain.
Since the appendix is usually on the right side of the body, the pain is usually felt more on the right side, or at least intensifies to the right. In any case, the location of the pain is a very imprecise symptom that cannot be used to make an exact diagnosis of appendicitis.
Appendicitis pain and symptoms
Pain is considered one of the first and most common symptoms of appendicitis. It usually appears suddenly epigastric or umbilical area near the navel in the upper middle part of the abdomen with enhancement to the right of the abdomen.
The pain is usually moderate and constant, but with intermittent cramps. Within hours of appearing, it usually descends towards the lower right quadrant to an area known as McBurney’s point approximately midway between the navel and the upper part of the right hip.
GalleryMost common areas of pain in appendicitis McBurney Point (1)
However, this pain pattern only appears between 50 and 75% of cases. In other cases, the pain appears late, is diffuse, radiates to the left, is very mild, or does not appear at all.
Other symptoms of appendicitis include loss of appetite, cramps and cramps, nausea and vomiting, abdominal swelling, fever, diarrhea with a lot of gas or the opposite, constipation with obstruction in the passage of gas.
Sometimes other symptoms considered atypical may appear, such as dull or sharp pain in the upper or lower abdomen, rectum or back, painful urination or vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain.
The diagnosis of appendicitis can be complicated by looking only at the symptoms, because they are symptoms similar to those that appear in many other conditions, such as urinary system problems, gastritis, ovarian problems or intestinal diseases. In addition to the symptoms of inflammation and abdominal pain, urine tests, digital rectal examinations and imaging tests such as ultrasound or computed tomography are usually performed.
Appendicitis is considered a health emergency that in most cases requires appendix removal. If left untreated, the inflamed appendix can burst or perforate and the infection can spread to the abdominal cavity.peritonitis), which is life-threatening if not treated quickly with strong antibiotics.
Surgery to remove the appendix is known as an appendectomy. Although in some cases the use of antibiotics may be sufficient and not require surgery, appendectomy is considered the standard treatment for appendicitis.
Excision is usually combined with antibiotic treatment as a preventative measure for possible peritonitis. Appendectomy is performed laparoscopically or through a small incision in the abdomen. Laparoscopy offers less intrusion and faster recovery, but this is not always possible. For example, if peritonitis already exists, drainage of the abdominal cavity may be necessary.
The patient can walk and stand in about 12 hours. Normality is fully recovered between 2 and 3 weeks.
Prevention and risk factors
Approximately 5% of the population suffers from appendicitis throughout life, mainly between 10 and 30 years old, with a higher incidence in men than in women. One of the main risk factors is low fiber diets since the accumulation of stool is one of the main causes of appendicitis.