What is the appendix?

The appendix is an 8cm long tube of tissue that is situated at the lower right end of the large intestine. Although this tissue seems to not have any specific purpose in the human body, it is a common area of infection and inflammation which, if left untreated, can burst and cause severe infection.

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix. It is uncertain what causes this inflammation, and prevention methods for this condition are also unknown. Be it caused by swelling of the lymphatic tissue or a blockage in the opening from the appendix into the cecum due to the risk of rupture; it is considered an emergency for surgical intervention.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of appendicitis is pain in the lower right side of the abdomen which may be worsened by movement, deep breaths, coughing, sneezing or touching in the area. Other symptoms include loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting; mild fever; bloating; inability to pass gas; constipation or diarrhoea. Not all individuals experience these symptoms which makes it difficult to diagnose, however, if you suspect you are suffering from symptoms related to appendicitis it is vital to contact Dr Tendani Muthambi.


How is appendicitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on the prevalence of symptoms within a patient in addition to a physical exam; blood tests to check high white blood cell count as an indication of infection; urine tests to rule out a urinary tract infection and possibly the completion of ultrasound to identify inflammation.

What are the treatment options?

Appendicitis which is left untreated may proceed to burst and contaminate the abdominal cavity with the colon contents. For this reason, appendicitis treatment entails surgical removal of the appendix known as an appendectomy. Appendix surgery is a common operation with a high success rate and can be done either laparoscopically or with larger incisions depending on the case and whether the appendix has burst or not.

If in fact, the appendix has not ruptured at the time of the operation, Dr Tendani Muthambi may decide to remove the appendix as in these instances it is better to remove it to prevent the occurrence of future appendicitis.

What can I expect after surgery?

Depending on the appendix surgery technique, most people are able to make a full recovery within a few weeks by avoiding strenuous physical activity for roughly six weeks after surgery and the aid of certain antibiotics to assist in pain and infection control.