Appendicitis: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

The appendix is ​​a thin dead-end tube, about 5 to 6 centimeters long. It is lined with lymphatic cells and probably plays some protective role, but it is of little value and potentially quite dangerous. If a bacterial infection occurs, this vestigial structure becomes inflamed and the so-called appendicitis appears., which can even cut off your blood supply, killing tissues and causing gangrene.

An infected appendix can also burst, spreading the infection to neighboring organs, thus causing peritonitis. In this sense, the quick and simple surgical removal of an inflamed appendix normally avoids these complications, without impairing the functioning of the intestine. Therefore, it is vitally important that you have knowledge about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of appendicitis, but before explaining these details you must know what it is and what types can occur.

What is appendicitis?

It is an inflammation and infection of the appendix, located near the point where the small intestine and colon meet, causing pain in the lower right abdomen. At first the pain may be mild, but without prompt diagnosis it can become more acute and severe.

Anyone can get appendicitis. However, it is more common in people between 10 and 30 years of age. The standard treatment is surgical removal of the appendix.

Types of appendicitis

There are four types of appendicitis, through which the patient can go through and they are:

Catarrhal appendicitis

It occurs when there is an obstruction of the appendicular lumen, due to the accumulation of mucous secretion.

Phlegmonous appendicitis

It occurs when the mucosa begins to present small ulcers or when it is disrupted by bacteria.

Necrotic appendicitis

It occurs when the phlegmonous process becomes intense and this generates a distention of the tissue.

Perforated appendicitis

At this stage, the perforations caused by the small ulcers become larger.

Why does appendicitis occur? What are your causes?

The inside of the appendix is ​​a dead end, which is attached to the large intestine. As a result, when the passage to the large intestine closes, the appendix becomes inflamed and an infection is very likely to occur.

If the infected appendix is ​​not removed, it can collapse, spreading the infection throughout the abdomen. In this sense, this would cause serious health problems. Now, the obstruction of the internal duct of the appendix can occur for the following reasons:

Lymphoid follicle hyperplasia

The most frequent cause is cataloged. In addition, it occurs when the lymphoid follicles become infected by a microbe, become inflamed, increase in size and obstruct the passage to the large intestine.

Appendicolith or fecalith

It occurs when the obstruction is due to fecal matter that passes through the large intestine into the anus.

Strange bodies

It is unlikely to occur, but it can happen that a digested foreign body obstructs the passage of the appendicular lumen.

Microorganisms and parasites

They directly block the appendicular lumen and inflame the lymphoid follicles. Likewise, the microorganism frequently encountered is yersinia.


It is very rare that they cause appendicitis, but if it does occur, it can be from the appendix itself or from the colon.

What are the most common symptoms?

The most common symptoms of appendicitis are:

  • Pain in the right side, in the lower right part of the abdomen.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain around the navel, moving to the lower right part of the abdomen.
  • Severe pain when making unexpected movements. Also, when you walk or cough.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever, at the beginning of the illness. However, as the disease progresses, the fever worsens.
  • In some cases, constipation may occur. In others, diarrhea.
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Flatulence

There are other conditions that cause similar symptoms, so appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose.

How is its diagnosis made?

The treating physician can reach a diagnosis of appendicitis, through the following tests:

Physical exam

The patient has a temperature between 37.5 ° C and 38 ° C in the initial stage of the disease. As the temperature progresses, it is usually above 38 ° C. During the physical examination, an abdominal examination is performed. The doctor can use several techniques such as:

  • McBurney’s point, where a line is drawn from the navel to the tip of the right pelvic bone.
  • Blumberg’s sign, during which an area of ​​the abdomen away from the appendix is ​​pressed, causing pain.
  • Thigh extension, which is a method used when the appendix is ​​located behind the colon.

In cases of peritonitis, the pain is intense with the risk of septic shock.

Laboratory exams

On blood tests, patients with appendicitis often have an elevated white blood cell count, with increased neutrophils. Also, a urinalysis is usually done.

Imaging diagnosis

  • Radiology: In the case of appendicitis, a dilated bowel loop can be seen. Strangely, a calcified fecalith can be seen in the right iliac fossa.
  • Ultrasound: In this study, the inflamed appendix or free fluid in the abdomen can be seen.
  • Computerized axial tomography (CT): it is a very effective method for diagnosing appendicitis. In addition, it allows to rule out other pathologies.
  • Laparoscopy: This study is used for cases of a diagnosis difficult to confirm, such as in the case of pregnant women, obese people and the elderly.

What is the treatment to follow?

Appendicitis is treated with a surgical procedure called an appendectomy, where the inflamed appendix is ​​removed. This intervention can be done in two ways: one is through an incision in the abdomen. The other is through an instrument called a laparoscope, which allows a smaller hole to be made.

Before and after this procedure, the patient should be given fluids, antibiotics, and pain relievers intravenously.

In the event that an infected appendix bursts causing peritonitis, treatment also includes surgery. In this case, the patient will need a longer hospital stay. The purpose is that the antibiotics can eliminate all the bacteria that are spread throughout the body.

Preventive actions

There is no way to prevent appendicitis. However, thanks to the reliable diagnostic tests and medications that are currently available, the vast majority of cases are detected early and treated without complications. However, specialists recommend eat a balanced diet. Also, avoid consuming fats of animal origin. Also, refined sugar, cold cuts and dairy products to reduce the risk of suffering it

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