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Acute appendicitis

Acute appendicitis: Introduction

Acute appendicitis is a rapidly progressing inflammation of a small part of the large intestine called the appendix. Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that generally requires prompt removal of the appendix to prevent life-threatening complications, such as ruptured appendix and peritonitis.

In contrast, chronic appendicitis develops slowly, has milder symptoms, and can often be treated with antibiotics. Chronic appendicitis is far less common than acute appendicitis.

The appendix is a pouch-like structure located in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen near the area where the small intestine links into the large intestine. The exact function of the appendix is not known, although it might be useful in protecting beneficial bacteria of the colon.

Acute appendicitis can occur when a piece of food, stool or object becomes trapped in the appendix. Acute appendicitis can also happen after a gastrointestinal infection. A tumor may also cause acute appendicitis in rare cases. Sometimes the cause of acute appendicitis isn't known.

Any of these conditions result in the abnormal growth of bacteria, swelling and inflammation of the appendix. The appendix then fills with pus, resulting in the typical symptoms of acute appendicitis. Symptoms of acute appendicitis include abdominal pain in the right lower area of the abdomen, fever, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. However, not all people with acute appendicitis will experience typical symptoms. Acute appendicitis can also lead to serious complications, especially if left untreated. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of acute appendicitis.

Acute appendicitis is a very common condition and a frequent cause of emergency surgery. Acute appendicitis can occur in any age group or population. However, it most often occurs in teens and young adults. It is rare in children under two years of age.

Making a diagnosis of acute appendicitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Examination of the abdomen frequently reveals severe pain and tenderness in the right lower area of the abdomen. This area is where the appendix is located and is called McBurney's point.

Diagnostic testing includes a blood test called a complete blood count with differential (CBC). A CBC can determine if there is a rise in the number of certain types of white blood cells, which indicates that an inflammatory and/or infectious process, such as acute appendicitis, is occurring in the body.

More specific diagnostic imaging tests may include an abdominal ultrasound and/or abdominal CT scan, which may reveal the inflamed appendix. These imaging tests are not always conclusive, and in some cases, a surgery called a diagnostic laparoscopy may be needed to look inside the abdomen and make the diagnosis. Other tests, such as urinalysis, are also done to rule out other common diseases and conditions that have similar symptoms, such as a kidney stone.

It is possible that a diagnosis of acute appendicitis can be missed or delayed because symptoms can vary amongst individuals. In addition, some symptoms of acute appendicitis are also common to other conditions, such as gastroenteritis or pelvic inflammatory disease. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of acute appendicitis.

Acute appendicitis is treated by the surgical removal of the appendix. If the appendix has ruptured, more intensive treatment and longer hospitalization is necessary. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of acute appendicitis....more »

Acute appendicitis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of acute appendicitis can be delayed or missed because symptoms do not always include the classic symptom of right lower abdominal pain. Symptoms of acute appendicitis are also typical of many other diseases, disorders and conditions. These include chronic appendicitis, gastroenteritis, kidney stone, constipation, pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Acute appendicitis:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Acute appendicitis. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Acute appendicitis: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Acute appendicitis

Home medical tests possibly related to Acute appendicitis:

Acute appendicitis: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Acute appendicitis, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

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Acute appendicitis Treatments

If acute appendicitis is diagnosed and treated promptly before the appendix ruptures, the outcome is generally very good. The treatment includes pain medications, intravenous antibiotics, and a surgical procedure called an appendectomy in which the appendix is completely removed. People in good health generally recover quickly without complications after an ...Acute appendicitis Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Acute appendicitis may include:

Review further information on Acute appendicitis Treatments.

Acute appendicitis: Animations

Acute appendicitis: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Acute appendicitis may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

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Acute appendicitis: Deaths

Read more about causes and Acute appendicitis deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Acute appendicitis

Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms. Although the most common symptoms are anal itch (or vaginal itch), which are...read more »

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed...read more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called ...read more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in the gut. This leads to " digestive...read more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it...read more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal...read more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can simply...read more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of celiac disease). A...read more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in children. See misdiagnosis of migraine or ...read more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, ...read more »

Acute appendicitis: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Acute appendicitis

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Acute appendicitis: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Acute appendicitis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Article Excerpts about Acute appendicitis

Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, a small portion of the large intestine that... (Source: excerpt from Appendicitis: NIDDK)

Definitions of Acute appendicitis:

Detailed list of causes of Acute appendicitis

The list below shows some of the causes of Acute appendicitis mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Acute appendicitis?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Acute appendicitis. Of the 10 causes of Acute appendicitis that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 0 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 1 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 9 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Acute appendicitis:

The following list of conditions have 'Acute appendicitis' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Acute appendicitis or choose View All.

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Causes of Acute appendicitis Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Acute appendicitis based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Acute appendicitis:

    Medical Conditions associated with Acute appendicitis:

    Appendix symptoms (5 causes), Lower abdominal symptoms (3048 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Inflammatory symptoms (1736 causes), Infection-related symptoms (1293 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Intestine symptoms (4 causes)

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Acute Appendicitis:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:

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