Appendicitis Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


The appendix is a finger-like pouch attached to the first part of the large intestine, or colon. An appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix.

The doctors of The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, are experienced in treating cases of appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix. When possible, Mercy’s surgeons use minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove an inflamed appendix.

About the Condition

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a small portion of tissue that extends from the right side of the large intestine. The exact function of the appendix in not known.

Appendicitis can occur when there is a blockage in the lining of the appendix. This is typically caused by a foreign matter, such as stool. When the appendix becomes blocked, bacteria can form and the appendix will swell and become inflamed. If not treated properly, the appendix can rupture and cause serious health issues.

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Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

The type and severity of symptoms associated with appendicitis can vary, but typically include the following:

  • Dull pain in the lower right abdomen or naval area that increases in severity over time
  • Pain that increases when coughing, walking or related movement
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Increased white blood cell count

Your doctor will typically start your diagnosis of appendicitis with a review of your medical history and a physical examination, gently applying pressure to the abdominal area to test for pain and rigidity. Your doctor also may use a blood test to check for an increase in white blood cells as a sign of infection. In some cases, a urine test may be performed to rule out other common conditions. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or CT scan, also may be performed to confirm an appendicitis diagnosis.

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Treatment Options

The most common treatment for appendicitis is the surgical removal of the inflamed appendix, known as appendectomy. Appendectomy is typically performed on an emergency basis after the diagnosis of appendicitis.

The surgeons of The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mercy utilize minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to perform appendectomy when possible. During laparoscopic surgery, doctors place use a thin, lighted tube, known as a laparoscope, through a tiny incision in the abdomen to examine the inflamed appendix. Surgical instruments are then used through two additional incisions to surgically remove the appendix. The advantages of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery may include:

  • Little or no scarring
  • Less discomfort after surgery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery time

In some cases, doctors may need to perform general open surgery to remove the appendix. The doctors of The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mercy will help to determine what course of treatment is best for you based on your personal condition and health factors.

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