The appendix is part of the large intestine. It is a tubular formation projecting from the cecum (the beginning of the large bowel).
It contains lymphatic tissue (part of the immune system) and secretes mucus.
The precise role of the appendix is unknown. When the lumen of the appendix becomes blocked (faeces, fibers, mucus overproduction, etc.), it starts to swell and colonized by bacteria trough diffusion. The inflammation created is commonly known as appendicitis.
Appendicitis can affect any age. It is most common in young people. The classic symptoms include nausea, vomiting, pain in the upper abdomen that migrates to the right lower quadrant over time, change in bowel habits (diarrhea- constipation) and possibly fever.
The symptoms are frequently vague and appendicitis should be raised as a possible diagnosis in any abdominal pain.
The diagnosis is based on patient’s history, physical examination, and imaging studies like ultrasound and abdominal C/T.
Appendicitis that left untreated can lead to serious complications like perforation of the appendix and peritonitis due to faecal content diffused into the abdomen.
The standard treatment is surgery to remove the inflamed appendix, which is called appendectomy.