What is appendicitis?

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Appendicitis refers to a medical condition that involves inflammation of the appendix, a finger-like pouch that extends from the bottom of the large intestine.  When this pouch gets inflamed, severe pain may be felt near the lower right abdominal area.

The exact cause of appendicitis is not entirely known to the medical community.  Most experts point to possible infection of the appendix or some blockage in the area that cause the inflammatory symptoms.  In most cases, the pain can be felt in the naval area at the inflammatory onset of appendicitis.  Once the inflammation progresses, the pain may become severe and excruciating and particularly felt in the lower right of the abdomen.  Some people who have appendicitis may also experience nausea and fever.  There are also patients who will be unable to pass gas and have swelling in the abdomen when their appendix is inflamed.  It is also common for people to experience cramping in the abdominal area or even diarrhea.  The most dreaded concern for appendicitis is when the whole appendix will burst because of the inflammation and possibly spread the infection across the abdominal lining called the peritoneum.  When this happens, medical treatment must be given immediately to avoid more severe symptoms and complications.

Appendectomy or the removal of the appendix surgically is often the only treatment option for appendicitis. This can be done through an open surgical procedure or through the help of laparoscopy which is a less invasive technique.  The laparoscopic procedure is typically done for milder cases of appendicitis and this procedure allows for faster healing time among patients. For appendicitis cases that feature rupture of the appendix or other complications such as abscesses, open surgery is the best treatment option because it includes removal and cleaning of the other abdominal complications of appendicitis.  Infection that has spread to the abdominal lining also requires removal of the appendix through open surgery.

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