Appendicitis is caused by a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the appendix vermiformis - the culmination of the cecum. This narrow, worm-shaped appendage hangs attached to the colon. Although it does not have any specific function, its opening can be blocked by a waste or tumors that cause swelling and inflammation to develop. If not treated promptly and adequately, the condition may worsen and lead to a rupture, spilling fecal material into the abdominal cavity and causing peritonitis. Emergency surgery may be required at any stage of appendicitis.

Though the existence of so-called chronic appendicitis is arguable, many people complain of periodic pain in the lower right abdominal area, nausea, and discomfort. This is caused by mechanical obstruction of the opening of the appendages, but does result in inflammation due to its spontaneous opening, and complaints cease. Later, they return. Sometimes we assume that it is "chronic" appendicitis even though there are no signs of true inflammation.

There are many symptoms of appendicitis. It is an unpredictable disease in the abdomen which occurs in a variety of ways. A combination of one or multiple signs and symptoms may include:

• abdominal pain,
• pain that increases with movement of the body,
• difficulty breathing,
• constipation that becomes diarrhea,
• nausea and vomiting,
• loss of appetite,
• painful urination and blood in the urine, and many others.

It is necessary to be fully examined by a surgeon to exclude any other conditions with similar symptoms. Blood and urine tests and manual rectal examinations provide good information about the development of appendicitis. Additionally, ultrasounds of the abdomen, computerized tomography scans of the abdomen, chest X-rays of the abdomen, lung capacity, and rectal body temperature can also be measured to provide further information and indications.

If the diagnosis is acute appendicitis, an operation should be performed immediately to remove the inflamed appendix.

With the advancement of surgery in general, it is not as risky an operation as it was a century ago. Of all abdominal surgeries, this operation remains the most difficult to diagnose and has the most potential for complications. After surgery, the patient usually stays in bed for a few days, with full recovery after no more than two to three weeks.

The surgery is performed via a small incision in the lower right abdomen or with special laparoscopic instruments via three 5- to 10-mm incisions in the umbilicus while the patient is under general anesthesia. During the operation blood supply to the appendix is cut off. Then it is tied at the base, next to the cecum. Removal prevents infected contents from contaminating the abdominal cavity. The procedure usually takes less than an hour, and my patients report significant relief afterwards.

Again, I would like to emphasize that the appendix is a small organ that can create major problems. So whenever you have abdominal pain or vague concerns related to your stomach, you can contact me for an opinion. I will gladly assist with whatever you need.

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