The appendix sits at the junction of the small intestine and large intestine. It’s a thin tube about four inches long. Normally, the appendix sits in the lower right abdomen.
Appendicitis is a condition in which your appendix becomes inflamed and fills with pus. Your appendix is a finger-shaped pouch that projects out from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. This small structure has no known essential purpose, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause problems.
- Aching pain that begins around your navel and often shifts to your lower right abdomen
- Pain that becomes sharper over several hours
- Tenderness that occurs when you apply pressure to your lower right abdomen
- Sharp pain in your lower right abdomen that occurs when the area is pressed on and then the pressure is quickly released (rebound tenderness)
- Pain that worsens if you cough, walk or make other jarring movements
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Inability to pass gas
- Abdominal swelling
- An obstruction:
Food waste or a hard piece of stool (fecal stone) can block the opening of the cavity that runs the length of your appendix.
- An infection:
Appendicitis may also follow an infection, such as a gastrointestinal viral infection, or it may result from other types of inflammation.
- A ruptured appendix:
If your appendix ruptures, the contents of your intestines and infectious organisms can leak into your abdominal cavity. This can cause an infection of your abdominal cavity (peritonitis).
- A pocket of pus that forms in the abdomen:
If your appendix has burst, infection and the seepage of intestinal contents may form an abscess — a pocket of infection (appendiceal abscess) around the appendix. Appendiceal abscess requires treatment before the abscess tears, causing a more widespread infection of the abdominal cavity.
- Laparotomy (Open Surgery):Laparotomy is the traditional type of surgery used for treating appendicitis. This procedure consists in the removal of the infected appendix through a single larger incision in the lower right area of the abdomen. The incision in a laparotomy is usually 2-3 inches long. This type of surgery is used also for visualizing and examining structures inside the abdominal cavity and it is called exploratory laparotomy.
- Laparoscopic Surgery:The laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgical technique involves making several tiny cuts in the abdomen and inserting a miniature camera and surgical instruments. As many as three or four incisions are made. The surgeon then removes the appendix with the instruments, so there is usually no need to make a large incision in the abdomen. The camera projects a magnified image of the area onto a television monitor which helps guide the surgeons as they remove the appendix. Laparoscopic surgery also requires general anesthesia and it can last up to two hours.