Healthy Living

Diagnosing Appendicitis During Pregnancy

Diagnosing Appendicitis During Pregnancy

Key Takeaways

  • Before going to see your doctor, avoid taking pain medication.
  • Do not eat, drink, or take any laxatives before visiting your doctor.
  • An ultrasound is a highly recommended test for diagnosing appendicitis.

Diagnosing appendicitis during pregnancy is difficult because its symptoms are quite similar to those of pregnancy. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of this condition and consult your doctor immediately if you feel that the signs and symptoms you are experiencing are indicative of appendicitis.  

Here is what to expect at the doctor’s visit:

1. When preparing for the doctor’s visit, stay calm. Your doctor will perform several abdominal exams to diagnose your condition, such as a stomach test, a hip test, a leg extension test, a rectal exam, blood tests, an ultrasound, imaging tests and more.

2. Before going to see your doctor, avoid taking pain medication as it can interfere with the examination and the doctor may not be able to diagnose your condition properly.

3. Do not eat, drink, or take any laxatives before visiting your doctor. This is because an empty stomach is required for certain procedures performed by doctors. Moreover, it also reduces the risk of bursting of your appendix.

4. Your doctor will do physical examination of your stomach to check for pain. He may press around your abdomen in what may be painful areas. He may also tap and test for "rebound tenderness".

5. The doctor may perform hip tests which look for the "Obturator sign". The bturator sign is pain that a person may experience when their hip is rotated. Tell your doctor if you feel any pain in your lower right quadrant of your abdomen while he is performing the test.

6. The doctor may also perform a leg extension test. During the test, you will be asked to lie on your side and extend your leg. If you feel pain while doing this, it could indicate "Psoas test". This is another sign of appendicitis.

7. Don’t be surprised if your doctor performs rectal exam. Although it does not relate directly to appendicitis, this can help identify the possibility of some other complication.

8. Apart from the aforementioned tests, your doctor may also perform blood tests, as people suffering from appendicitis are reported to have high blood count. In case of pregnant women, this isn’t always helpful because due to their pregnancy, they already have a high blood count.

9. Ultrasounds are highly recommended for diagnosing appendicitis in pregnant women. They don’t cause any harm to the baby and are highly effective in detecting an inflamed appendix.

10. Other imaging tests may also be performed by the doctor. Often all imaging tests become complicated after 35 weeks of pregnancy. Because of the baby's presence, it becomes hard to see the appendix. At this point, a CT scan or an MRI may be recommended by your doctor to better visualize the condition of the appendix.