Pomerene Hospital Blog
The 1,2,3's of Appendicitis
Tell Me About the Appendix:
The exact function or purpose of having an appendix in humans is not known for sure. In herbivores, animals that eat exclusively plants and vegetation, the appendix aids in digestion. However, humans like the enzymes to digest cellulose (the substance plant walls are composed of) and the appendix is too small to significantly aid in digestion.
Secondly, the appendix is hypothesized to regulate bacteria in the colon. Specifically, the appendix may mobilize “good” bacteria into the colon to re-established normalize bowel function after episodes of diarrhea.
Lastly, the appendix has patches of lymphoid tissue (tissues that contain cells that fight infection) that are believed to help the immune response of the gut. But, the amount of lymphoid tissue within the appendix is not sufficient in size to significantly protect the whole gut from infection. Though the exact function or purpose of the appendix is not known, it is known that a person can live a normal healthy life after removal of the organ.
1. Appendicitis and It’s Symptoms:
Appendicitis is an infection of the appendix. The hallmark symptom of appendicitis is pain in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Besides pain, a person with appendicitis may experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, low grade fever, constipation or diarrhea, and abdominal bloating.
2. Don’t Ignore The Symptoms!
If the symptoms are ignored, the appendix will rupture in 2-3 days. Rupture occurs after the appendix has swelled enough to completely deprive the appendiceal wall of blood. Without blood, the tissues that comprise the appendiceal wall die, weaken, and rupture. A person suspected of having appendicitis should go to the nearest hospital for evaluation as soon as possible, especially after 12 hours of persistent and worsening abdominal pain. Early treatment may prevent rupture.
3. Treatment of Appendicitis:
Treatment for appendicitis is surgery. The name of the surgery to remove the appendix is an Appendectomy. A Laparoscopic Appendectomy is performed through 3 small keyhole incisions in the abdomen and utilizes small instruments and a camera to see inside the abdomen. An Open Appendectomy is performed through a 4-5 cm horizontal incision in the right lower aspect of the abdomen. Open Appendectomy may be indicated if the patient has a complicated case of appendicitis, has had previous abdominal surgery, or has lung or heart disease.
Occasionally appendicitis is not treated with immediate surgery. The decision to delay surgery is called Interval Appendectomy. Interval Appendectomy may be the appropriate approach if the appendicitis is complicated by a rupture associated with an abscess or appendicitis associated with a mass. In these cases, the abscesses are drained and the infection cleared with antibiotics initially. An appendectomy is performed 6-8 weeks later.
How Pomerene Can Help You:
If you or someone you know are having these symptoms, please call Pomerene Surgical Services at (330) 763-2018.
Blog Written By: Michael Schell, M.D.