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Appendicitis

An inflamed appendix leads to a condition of appendicitis. In this condition, the opening of the appendix into the cecum is blocked. Mucus or stool can be the causes for the blockage. A blood clot or carcinoid tumor may also be a cause for the blockage of the appendiceal orifice. In some cases, appendicitis follows a gastrointestinal viral infection. The inflammation causes reduced blood supply to the appendix thereby diminishing its ability to fight infection. Inflammation and infection can lead to a rupture of the appendix thereby spreading the infection to the entire abdominal area. Perforation of the appendix usually warrants immediate surgery. If the infection is allowed to enter other parts of the body, it can be life-threatening. Another fallout of appendicitis is that the contents of the intestine are blocked from passing. This leads to abdominal distension with nausea and vomiting. In few cases, the body is able to resolve the inflammation and infection with antibiotics and care. This usually happens when the appendicitis is noticed and diagnosed at a very early stage.


Symptoms of appendicitis are abdominal pain that is diffused and not localized. The patient might have elevated body temperature with tenderness in the lower right abdomen, if palpated. When the appendiceal inflammation increases, the pain is clearly localized to a single area - between the front of the right hip bone and the belly button. Early symptoms of appendicitis are often easily mistaken for gastroenteritis. Children may have fewer symptoms thereby making diagnosis more difficult. Appendicitis is first diagnosed with a thorough physical examination. Abdominal scans are useful in detecting the cause of blockage. A blood test of a person suffering from appendicitis will reveal abnormal white blood count. But it cannot be taken as the only sign of appendicitis. A CT Scan can help reveal the area of the appendix that is affected.

Appendectomy

With traditional appendectomy, the surgeon enters the abdomen through a 3 inch long incision. The appendix is removed by freeing it from the attachment to the abdomen and colon. Pus will need to be drained in case of an abscess. Laparoscopy is now regularly used to remove an inflamed appendix. A small fiber optic tube with camera is inserted through one or two small punctures made on the abdominal wall. Tiny instruments are passed through the other abdominal incisions to remove the appendix. Laparoscopy allows a surgeon to view the appendix and other abdominal organs. A decision can then be made whether the appendix needs to be removed at all. A clear diagnosis is possible with laparoscopy on doubtful cases of appendicitis. Laparoscopic appendix removal allows faster recovery and lesser scarring.

Abdominal CAT scan

CAT scans are particularly used to study with clarity several organs in the abdominal regions of the body namely liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys. Many causes of abdominal pain are diagnosed using specialized CT equipment for interpreting CT scans of the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the colon and the rectum. Abscess in the abdomen, inflammation of the colon or colon cancer, diverticulitis and appendicitis are diagnosed. When severe pain is caused by an infection or inflammation, the speed, ease and accuracy of a CT examination can reduce the risk of serious complications caused by a burst appendix or an erupted diverticulum and the subsequent spread of the infection. Especially in cases of bowel obstruction, CT is the best imaging test recommended.


Peritonitis

Inflammation of the peritoneum is called as Peritonitis. Inflammation may be the result of an infection caused due to the accumulation of blood, pus or body fluids in the abdominal cavity. It can rapidly spread across the body and cause death. Typical causes of peritonitis are burst appendix, burst stomach ulcer, diverticulitis and Crohn's disease. Cirrhosis and kidney dialysis can also lead to peritonitis.


Spontaneous peritonitis occurs due to infection in the fluid that has accumulated in the peritoneal cavity. This happens in cases of advanced kidney or liver disease.

Secondary peritonitis involves leakage of bile or pancreatic enzymes into the abdominal cavity.


Symptoms of peritonitis include nausea, lack of appetite, high fever and severe abdominal pain. The person might find it difficult to pass urine. Abdominal distension is observed. There is shortness of breath and racing. CT scan and blood tests are done to check the condition.

Severe obstructions may necessitate immediate surgery to prevent perforation. In other cases, Antibiotics are administered for about 7 days. They might be injected directly into the peritoneal area. In case there is extensive damage to any part of the peritoneum, that part of the perforated stomach of intestine might be surgically removed. Alternatively, any abscess is drained to aid healing.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 11, 2019