Appendicitis: what is it and what are the symptoms? How is the surgery?

You have certainly heard of appendicitis. It is that disease that “happens in an organ that nobody knows very well what it is used for, besides causing pain”.

It is true that appendicitis can give patients a lot of pain. It is also true that there is no certainty in the medical world about the function of the appendix.

What is known is that the condition is relatively common and that, if ignored, in addition to pain, can lead to serious problems.

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, an organ that is connected to the beginning of the large intestine. Although there are several speculations, it is not known exactly what his function is.

In addition to the enormous pain caused by inflammation, there is a risk that the inflamed organ will rupture, which can lead to death from blood loss and sepsis (generalized infection through the blood), as well as peritonitis (infection of the protective layer of internal organs) ).

Sepsis can happen because the appendix is ​​part of the large intestine, so fecal matter can end up inside the abdominal cavity and in the bloodstream.

The code for appendicitis in the ICD-10 is K37 .

Stages of appendicitis

Appendicitis can present in a few different stages. Are they:

Acute appendicitis

Acute appendicitis presents when the appendix is ​​inflamed, causing abdominal pain that soon focuses on the right region of the belly, where the organ is. The pains are sharp and worsen over time.

The acute type is more frequent among patients.

Suppurative appendicitis

Suppurative appendicitis is a consequence of inflammation. Suppuration is nothing more than a rupture of the appendix .

The organ ruptures, releasing its contents in the abdominal cavity, that is, feces and bacteria. It is the worst result of an appendicitis, as it can lead to generalized infections and abdominal cavity.

Chronic appendicitis

Appendicitis is called chronic when it is continuous (longer than 1 month) and recurrent.

When the patient has an appendicitis that resolves spontaneously or through drug treatment, but that returns frequently, it is said that he has a chronic appendicitis.

Rarely do patients develop the disease in this way since the main treatment for acute appendicitis is organ removal, which naturally makes recurrence unviable.

Causes of appendicitis

The cause of an appendicitis is not always clear, but there are two main ones. Are they:

Obstruction

Obstruction of the appendix can lead to appendicitis. On some occasions, something can close the appendix, which causes the bacteria present in it to multiply and not follow the path of the intestine, which leads to infection.

It is rarely caused by an object that has been swallowed and got stuck as it passes through the region, and it is more common for fecalites to cause this blockage. Fecalites are pieces of fecal cake that harden in the large intestine.

They can block or lodge in the appendix, facilitating the multiplication of bacteria from the appendix itself or that the fecal cake brought with it, resulting in an infection and subsequent inflammation of the organ.

Infections

In some cases, even without obstruction of the appendix, a gastrointestinal infection can cause appendicitis, which may result in the need to remove it.

Risk factors

There is no group or risk factor that predisposes to appendicitis. It is especially common in people between 14 and 18 years of age, but it can affect everyone in any age group.

Men have a slightly greater chance of developing the condition, but the difference is minimal.

The reason adolescents are most affected is related to the proliferation of lymphoid follicles , clusters of white blood cells that can obstruct the appendix. They proliferate more during adolescence, and when they block the appendix, inflammation can happen.

Elderly people are rarely affected. This is because from the age of 40 to 60, the appendix closes naturally, which makes it very difficult for bacteria to penetrate and, consequently, for infection.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Appendicitis gives several signs, the main one being abdominal pain in the region of the organ. Inflammation of the appendix can cause:

Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain from appendicitis may begin without a precise location, but it soon focuses on the lower right region of the body, where the appendix is.

The localized pains are acute and intensify with movement or pressure in the region, in addition to reaching a peak of pain between 12 and 18 hours after the onset.

Nausea and vomiting

Inflammation causes nausea and vomiting. In some cases, even if the person is already on an empty stomach, cravings can happen.

Loss of appetite

Appetite is compromised during inflammation of the appendix, which is also hampered by nausea and vomiting as any intake can end up being regurgitated.

Swollen belly

The belly may become swollen due to the accumulation of gases in the intestine or even outside it, in case there is a rupture of the appendix.

Fever

The disease appears when the immune system is acting against infection and inflammation, and may arise due to appendicitis.

What are the symptoms of childhood appendicitis?

Childhood appendicitis is the same that affects adults and the symptoms are also severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever and swelling in the belly. It can occur in children and adolescents.

In general, treatment and conduction of recovery are quite similar. In general, the greatest care must involve the needs of the infant organism and pediatric follow-up.

Diagnosis: what is the best test to detect appendicitis?

There are several ways to diagnose appendicitis or to raise suspicions about it, such as blood, urine and imaging tests, such as x-rays . The professional who treats appendicitis is the gastroenterologist .

Some of the exams that can be done work as follows:

Bloodtests

The blood test looks to see if the body is producing too many white blood cells to fight a possible infection. With this information, added to the patient’s reports on pain location, it is possible that the doctor suspects an appendicitis.

Urine analysis

A urine test, like a blood test, is able to show signs that the body is dealing with inflammation and can raise suspicions of appendicitis.

Imaging exams

When there is a suspicion that the appendix is ​​inflamed, it may be necessary to perform imaging tests, especially X-ray with contrast .

For the examination, the patient ingests a mixture of water with barium (the contrast). Barium is an element that absorbs x-rays and covers the digestive system, making the walls of the organs appear white in the image.

This allows the doctor to look at the appendix more clearly to see if it is swollen, inflamed or even ruptured.

Is appendicitis curable?

-Yeah . Appendicitis is a disease with the potential to be fatal, but only in cases where it is not treated. Appendicitis is cured by appendix removal surgery.

What is the treatment for appendicitis?

The most effective treatment for appendicitis is to remove the organ . It is possible to treat the condition with other methods in some cases, but the risk of the inflamed appendix breaking is high and delaying removal is not always justified.

Appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics , controlling the infection, and in many cases the patient is under observation for 24 hours after administration of the medications.

Read more: Misuse of antibiotics creates superbugs that can kill

When the improvement is not identified or the patient has an advanced condition – close to the rupture of the organ – the surgery is performed.

It is perfectly possible to live without the appendix. After surgery, patients do not miss the organ, which may have no function at all and may only be an evolutionary trace.

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

How is appendicitis surgery done?

Appendicitis surgery is simple. It involves removing the organ, which can be done with a cut in the abdomen or through laparoscopy, which is less invasive and uses small holes in the region.

Appendectomy

Appendectomy is surgery to remove the appendix. For its accomplishment, a cut is made in the abdomen, the organ is located, isolated and removed, and then the cut is closed.

The surgery is simple, but due to the cut, the patient can take from one week to up to a month to recover.

Laparoscopic appendectomy

This operation has the same function as the traditional appendectomy, but the organ removal method is less invasive, representing less risk to the patient.

Instead of making a cut through which the organ is removed, the surgeon drills small holes in the patient’s abdomen, through which a camera and tools are inserted, with which the doctor locates, isolates and cuts the appendix.

Then it is placed in a bag – still inside the body – and removed by one of the little holes made by the surgeon.

The great advantage of this type of surgery is that the scars left are minimal, in addition to lower risk of infection and reduced recovery time.

In the case of laparoscopic surgery, the patient is usually discharged the next day.

Postoperative: how is recovery from surgery?

Overall, recovery is good. If the appendix has ruptured, it may be necessary to stay in the hospital for a few days receiving antibiotics intravenously, to ensure that there will be no infection. However, after that, they are usually discharged.

When surgery is done with opening the abdominal cavity, 7 to 30 days may be necessary for the patient to recover completely, which varies depending on whether or not there was an organ rupture.

In the case of laparoscopic surgery, recovery is extremely fast. Between 2 and 7 days it is already possible to return to work.

Does the surgery leave a scar?

Yes , surgery leaves a scar. When it happens with the abdomen open, the scar can be large, but when the technique is laparoscopic, small holes are made and these are the only scars, which can be imperceptible in a short time.

Prognosis

The prognosis of appendicitis is usually good, even in cases where there is a rupture of the appendix, since when this happens, extreme pain usually takes the patient to the hospital immediately.

It is important to note that the rupture of the appendix is ​​a medical emergency. But in general, the disease is easily treated.

Complications of appendicitis

When appendicitis is ignored, the organ can rupture, pouring its contents into the patient’s abdominal cavity, which is quite dangerous. Complications caused by this can include:

Peritonite

The peritoneum is a protective layer of Organs internal organs and the abdominal cavity.

When the appendix ruptures, the bacteria and feces that are in it are released into the abdominal cavity and the result is often an infection of the peritoneum, which inflames.

Infectious peritonitis is usually fatal and treatment needs to be rapid, with organ washing and use of antibiotic drugs.

BECAUSE

Sepsis is another infection that can happen, even more serious than peritonitis.

When bacteria from the intestine or fecal matter enter the bloodstream – which can happen through contact with other organs or even through the region where the appendix has ruptured – the blood itself can become infected. It is called widespread infection .

The infected blood then carries bacteria to every organ in the body.

Sepsis, when left untreated, is always fatal and, in many cases, even treatment is not able to save the victim.

Death

The result of a burst appendix, when there is no rapid treatment, is death. Whether due to sepsis or infection of the peritoneum, treatment is necessary and rupture of the appendix is ​​a medical emergency.

Prevention

The only way to prevent appendicitis is to remove the organ, which is not recommended unless it ignites. In general, there is no way to prevent the disease and it is not known who will develop it, but it is relatively common.

Common questions

Where is the appendix?

The appendix is ​​a small organ that is connected to the beginning of the large intestine, looking like a small organ tail. When it is inflamed, it can change color, swell and cause enormous pain.

What to eat after appendicitis surgery?

In the first 24 hours after appendicitis surgery, you should eat light foods, avoid sweets, alcoholic drinks and fizzy drinks. Vegetables and greens are allies, giving preference to well-cooked and, if possible, pasty foods.

Fibers are also indicated. Do not forget to hydrate yourself well to ensure an adequate recovery.

After recovering from surgery, there are no dietary restrictions due to the removal of the appendix and you can eat the same way you did before appendicitis.

On which side does appendicitis occur?

The appendix is ​​usually on the right side of the abdomen , in the region where the small intestine joins the large intestine. However, some people have a rare condition called situs inversus , which manifests itself with the inverted positioning of internal organs.

In these people, the appendix is ​​on the left side of the body. In addition, other organs may be inverted, such as the heart on the right side. But rest assured, this is a very rare condition.

Can I live without an appendix?

Yes , easily. Patients who have had their appendix removed maintain their quality of life and no difference is noticeable. Therefore, losing that organ is not a problem.

What does the appendix do?

No one knows for sure. However, there are hypotheses. One of them indicates that it is an evolutionary vestige of a time when the food of the human race – or of its ancestors – was more based on plants.

Other mammals, such as rabbits, have an appendix that is larger than that of humans, and there are bacteria that specialize in digesting plants that the rabbit’s digestive system alone is unable to process.

It is assumed that the human appendix was larger and had a similar function, but that it has become obsolete and now it has no function.

Another hypothesis is that the appendix is ​​used by the immune system, since certain defense cells are common in the organ. However, there is no evidence that this actually happens.

It is not known what the organ is for, but it exists and when an inflammation occurs in it, the removal does not do any harm.

Can I remove the appendix preventively?

Technically yes, but doctors don’t recommend it. There is no guarantee that an appendix will ignite, so surgery can be completely useless.

Just pay attention to the symptoms and if a severe pain in the abdomen, which moves to the lower right side of the region appears, run to the hospital.


Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, which is at the beginning of the large intestine. It is a medical emergency. Share this text with your friends so they can learn more about the condition!

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