Appendicitis

Appendicitis Treatment

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful inflammation of the appendix, a small tube of tissue attached to the colon. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity.

It starts with an intermittent pain in the middle of the stomach that develops quickly and travels to the lower right-hand side, where the appendix lies, becoming constant and severe.

It is a common condition accounting for around 40,000 hospital admissions a year and, although it can develop at any age, it is more common in people ages ten to 20-years-old.

Appendicitis

Causes Of Appendicitis

Most cases of appendicitis are thought to be caused when something blocks the entrance of the appendix, a small, thin pouch measuring 5 to 10 cm.

It is usually the result of infection, possibly of the stomach, or an obstruction, usually a hard piece of stool (faeces) that gets trapped in your appendix, and the bacteria in the stool then infects the appendix. Once bacteria enter your appendix, they rapidly multiply, causing the appendix to swell and become filled with pus.

The causes are not fully understood so there is no guaranteed way of preventing appendicitis.

Symptoms Of Appendicitis

Patients can experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, cramp like pain, constipation, high temperature and diarrhea. The pain can worsen by coughing, sneezing or even walking.

The pain can be severe enough to wake someone who is sleeping. It can start with similar mild nausea symptoms of a stomach bug but if it continues to get worse and the pain develops in the lower right abdominal area then you should seek medical attention.

Diagnosis Of Appendicitis

Only 50% of appendicitis conforms to typical symptoms so it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. Sometimes the pain is gastroenteritis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation or a bladder infection. Some people’s appendixes are sited in slightly different positions. But GPs can usually diagnose by examining the abdomen and applying pressure to the site of the appendix.

In more complex cases, a blood or urine test can check for infection and an ultrasound or CT scan will determine if they appendix is swollen.

Treatment Of Appendicitis

Mild cases can be treated with antibiotics but in the majority of cases the appendix will have to be surgically removed in a procedure known as an appendectomy, performed through open surgery or keyhole surgery. A prompt operation can result in most patients being allowed home within 24 hours with pain and bruising lasting just a few days and comfortably managed with painkillers. The appendix doesn’t perform any important functions so having it removed does not lead to any long-term problems.

Contact Us Today

To ask a question about appendicitis or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm.

Our gastrointestinal specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs. If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment. If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use.Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.

Call us on 020 7078 3802 or email us at gi.unit@hje.org.uk

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a test for appendicitis?

Your doctor can run tests that can help him or her find the cause of your symptoms. But if you do have appendicitis, he will be able to diagnose it through a simple examination.

Should I see a doctor?

Yes. See your doctor immediately if you have the symptoms listed above. The risk of your appendix bursting is much higher after the first 24 hours of symptoms. If the appendix bursts, the surgery to treat it will be more complicated.

How is appendicitis treated?

The main treatment for appendicitis is surgery to remove the appendix. This surgery can be done in 2 ways:

Open surgery – During an open surgery, the doctor makes a cut near the appendix that is big enough to pull the appendix through.

Laparoscopic (Keyhole) surgery – During laparoscopic surgery, the doctor makes a few cuts that are much smaller than those used in open surgery. Then he or she inserts long, thin tools into the belly. One of the tools has a camera (called a “laparoscope”) on the end, which sends pictures to a TV screen. The doctor can look at the image on the screen to know where to cut and what to remove. Then he or she uses the long tools to do the surgery.

If your appendix has burst, your surgery will probably be more complicated than it would be if it had not burst. Your doctor will need to wash away the material that spills out when an appendix bursts. As a result, your cuts might be larger or you might spend more time in surgery.

If it has been a few days since your appendix burst, your doctor might decide not to do surgery at all. That’s because the body sometimes forms a wall inside the belly, to block off the area that became infected when the appendix burst. In a case like this, doctors usually give antibiotics and carefully watch the patient. They might be able to avoid doing surgery right away, since it can be more difficult in people who fit this description. But many people will need surgery later to take out the appendix.

Conservative treatment

In some specific case early appendictis can be treated with anthibiotics alone but you need to discuss with your consultant and monitor clinical condition.

What if I'm pregnant?

If you are pregnant and think you have signs of appendicitis, make sure you tell your doctors that you are pregnant.

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