Educational Articles



Appendix is a tubular structure, shaped like a pig’s tail, that is attached to the first portion of the colon. It measures approximately 10cm in length. When the opening of the appendix is obstructed by substance such as hair or stool, it can become inflammed, which may result in a condition known as appendicitis.


Appendicitis most commonly develops in younger individuals in their teens or 20’s. However, appendicitis can occur at any age in individuals who have not had their appendix removed. The initial symptoms associated with appendicitis may be non-specific. Often individuals affected may complain of vague abdominal pain that are diffuse and not well localized. Some may complain of indigestion, lack of appetite, nausea or vomiting. However, as the inflammation progresses, abdominal pain becomes more severe and intense, and localizes to the right lower region of abdomen. 

To make the diagnosis of appendicitis, a careful physical examination, is important and helpful. In particular, there may be a focal tenderness in the right lower abdomen, both when the area is gently pressed, and sometime even when the hand that is pressing the area is released. Some may develop fever and chill. Blood test may demonstrate an elevation of white blood cell count. Although most instances of appendicitis may be diagnosed with physical examination and routine blood tests, abdominal sonogram or CT scan may be helpful in difficult cases. 

If untreated, appendicitis may progress to gangrene, rupture, and may even be life threatening. Thus, a timely surgical treatment is essential in the management of appendicitis. In most cases, surgery can be performed without much difficulty, and one can expect a full recovery from the surgery in 1-2 days.



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