St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Appendicitis

    Appendicitis is swelling (inflammation) of the appendix. The appendix is a small pouch attached to the large intestine.

    Appendicitis is a very common cause of emergency surgery. The problem most often occurs when the appendix becomes blocked by feces, a foreign object, or rarely, a tumor.

    Symptoms

    The symptoms of appendicitis can vary. It can be hard to diagnose appendicitis in young children, the elderly, and women of childbearing age.

    The first symptom is often pain around the belly button. Pain may be minor at first, but becomes more sharp and severe. You may also have a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and a low fever.

    The pain tends to move into the right lower part of your belly. The pain tends to focus at a spot directly above the appendix called McBurney's point. This most often occurs 12 to 24 hours after the illness starts.

    If your appendix breaks open (ruptures), you may have less pain for a short time and you may feel better. However, the pain soon gets worse and you will feel sicker.

    Your pain may be worse when you walk, cough, or make sudden movements. Later symptoms include:

    • Chills and shaking
    • Hard stools
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Nausea and vomiting

    Exams and Tests

    How you describe your symptoms can lead your doctor to suspect appendicitis.

    Your doctor will also examine you.

    • If you have appendicitis, your pain will increase when the doctor gently presses on your lower right belly area.
    • If your appendix has ruptured, touching the belly area may cause a lot of pain and lead you to tighten your muscles.
    • A rectal exam may find tenderness on the right side of your rectum.

    A blood test will often show a high white blood cell count. Imaging tests may also help diagnose appendicitis. Imaging testsinclude:

    • CT scan of the abdomen
    • Ultrasound of the abdomen

    Treatment

    Most of the time, a surgeon will remove your appendix as soon as you are diagnosed.

    If a CT scan shows that you have an abscess, you may be treated with antibiotics first. You will have your appendix removed after the infection and swelling have gone away.

    The tests used to diagnose appendicitis are not perfect. As a result, the operation may show that your appendix is normal. In that case, the surgeon will remove your appendix and explore the rest of your abdomen for other causes of your pain.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most people recover quickly after surgery if the appendix is removed before it ruptures. .

    If your appendix ruptures before surgery, recover may take longer. You are also more likely to develop or problems, such as:

    • An abscess
    • Blockage of the intestine
    • Infection inside the abdomen (peritonitis)
    • Infection of the wound after surgery

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have abdominal pain in the lower-right portion of your belly, or other symptoms of appendicitis.

    References

    Ben-David K, Sarosi GA Jr. Appendicitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 116.

    Bundy DG, Byerley JS, Liles EA, Perrin EM, Katznelson J, Rice HE. Does this child have appendicitis? JAMA. 2007;298:438-451.

    Krajewski S, Brown J, Phang PT, Raval M, Brown CJ. Impact of computed tomography of the abdomen on clinical outcomes in patients with acute right lower quadrant pain: a meta-analysis. Can J Surg. 2011;54:43-53.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Anatomical landmarks, fr...

      illustration

    • Digestive system

      illustration

    • Appendectomy - Series

      Presentation

    • Appendicitis

      illustration

      • Anatomical landmarks, fr...

        illustration

      • Digestive system

        illustration

      • Appendectomy - Series

        Presentation

      • Appendicitis

        illustration

      Self Care

        Tests for Appendicitis

          Review Date: 7/18/2013

          Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          adam.com

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


          Back  |  Top
          About Us
          Contact Us
          History
          Mission
          Locations & Directions
          Quality Reports
          Annual Reports
          Honors & Awards
          Community Health Needs
          Assessment

          Newsroom
          Services
          Brain & Spine
          Cancer
          Heart
          Maternity
          Orthopedics
          Pulmonary
          Sleep Medicine
          Urgent Care
          Women's Services
          All Services
          Patients & Visitors
          Locations & Directions
          Find a Physician
          Tour St. Luke's
          Patient & Visitor Information
          Contact Us
          Payment Options
          Financial Assistance
          Send a Card
          Mammogram Appointments
          Health Tools
          My Personal Health
          mystlukes
          Spirit of Women
          Health Information & Tools
          Clinical Trials
          Health Risk Assessments
          Employer Programs -
          Passport to Wellness

          Classes & Events
          Classes & Events
          Spirit of Women
          Donate & Volunteer
          Giving Opportunities
          Volunteer
          Physicians & Employees
          For Physicians
          Remote Access
          Medical Residency Information
          Pharmacy Residency Information
          Physician CPOE Training
          Careers
          Careers
          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
          Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile