Appendicitis

Definition of Appendicitis

Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small pouch attached to the beginning of your large intestine.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of emergency abdominal surgery in the United States. It usually occurs when the appendix becomes blocked by feces, a foreign object, or rarely, a tumor.

Symptoms

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

Signs and tests

If you have appendicitis, your pain will increase when the doctor suddenly releases the pressure after gently pressing on your lower right belly area. If you have peritonitis, touching the belly area may cause a spasm of the muscles.

Treatment

If you have an uncomplicated case, a surgeon will usually remove your appendix soon after your doctor thinks you might have the condition. For information on this type of surgery see: .

Expectations (prognosis)

If your appendix is removed before it ruptures, you will likely get well very soon after surgery. If your appendix ruptures before surgery, you will probably recover more slowly, and are more likely to develop an abscess or other complications.

Review

George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 7/6/2009

Anatomical landmarks, front view
Digestive system
Appendectomy  - series

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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