What is the appendix?
The appendix is a small pouch that is attached to the end of the large intestine. It creates a small amount of mucus that empties into the large intestine, but it does not seem to be needed for the body to function normally.
In some cases, a blockage in the appendix will interfere with the flow of mucus into the intestine, causing swelling and infection. This condition is known as appendicitis and is accompanied by a sharp pain in the lower, right corner of the abdomen where the appendix is located. If appendicitis is not treated as soon as possible, the appendix could burst, causing the infection to spread into the abdomen. This can be fatal.
Appendix surgery to treat appendicitis
Appendix surgery is the only way to treat appendicitis. This procedure is often performed when acute appendicitis is suspected and is one of the most common emergency surgeries performed in the United States. During an appendectomy, the swollen appendix is removed from the body. In most cases, a laparoscopic appendectomy is performed to remove the appendix using a series of tiny incisions. There are no known adverse effects of living without an appendix.
Located on the right side of your lower abdomen, the appendix is a tiny finger-like extension from the colon. Medical science does not know its exact function, but this tiny organ can become swollen and infected, causing appendicitis. Pain in the lower right abdomen that becomes increasingly severe is an indication that the appendix may be inflamed and infected, indicating the need for medical intervention.
It is not always apparent what causes appendicitis, but an obstruction in the bowel may be a cause. Other times appendicitis occurs after a digestive tract infection. Quick treatment for an infection in the appendix is usually required, as it can burst as it becomes filled with pus. Once the appendix bursts, intestinal contents leak into the abdominal cavity, causing a further dangerous infection.
Symptoms of appendicitis include the digestive troubles of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, but most noticeable is the increasingly sharp pain that begins around the navel and then moves to the lower right abdomen. Sudden movements and even walking can make the pain worse. A low fever may also be present as the body tries to fight the infection.
Anyone can have appendicitis, but it is most common in people between the ages of 10 and 30. Any severe pain in the abdomen should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Patients in the Ft. Myers, Florida area and elsewhere should quickly seek medical attention if the pain worsens. The doctor will take blood and urine tests and does imaging testing to diagnose the problem.
An appendectomy is generally performed, removing the infected appendix. If the organ is abscessed, this may be addressed first. Recovery time varies, but it takes several weeks to heal after an appendectomy.