What Really Is Appendicitis?
To understand the term appendicitis, you need first to understand what the appendix is. The appendix is a small structure that is finger-shaped and located in the abdomen in connection with the large intestines. More specifically, this structure is found on lower right side of your abdomen. It is believed that the appendix is one of the vestigial structures in the human body that did not disappear during evolution.
Appendicitis on the other hand refers to a medical condition that occurs to the appendix. It is characterized by inflammation of the appendix. In majority of the appendicitis cases, the infected appendix becomes inflamed as a result of its tissue being infected with bacteria. These bacteria may lead to the development of pus most especially inside the appendix.
Another cause of appendicitis, aside from inflammation, may be the blockage of the appendix. Blockage usually results from the following:
- Deposition of hard balls of fecal material at the appendix.
- Mucus that is thick.
- Pus secreted as a result of inflammation or infection of the inner walls of the appendix.
- Foreign materials deposited on the appendix.
- Malignant or benign tumors (though these are rarely the cause).
- Movement out of the abdominal cavity of the appendix in a hernia sac. It gets obstructed by the opening of the hernia which is narrow.
When the appendix becomes infected with appendicitis, it is important to seek medical attention as early as you start experiencing signs and symptoms related to appendicitis. If you ignore this condition, things may move from bad to worse. How much worse can it be?
Cases of appendicitis may even result in death of the patient if not treated. The appendix may burst open and release its content to the surrounding tissue. This further spreads the infection to the other formerly healthy tissues. The removal of the appendix that is infected may be necessary to treat appendicitis. This surgical process is referred to as ‘appendectomy.’
More often than not, the surgery is carried out as an emergency operation. Appendectomy may also be carried out as a preventive measure for appendicitis. It is usually the case where for some other reasons, which may not necessarily be related to appendicitis, a patient undergoes abdominal surgery. However, this is only after your approval upon discussing the matter with your surgeon. The type of removal involved here is known as a prophylactic removal of the appendix.
Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis
Briefly, let us go over some of the signs and symptoms you will be on the lookout for before making the decision to undergo an appendectomy.
- Pain in the abdominal region
- Moderate fever
- Problem when it comes to passing gas
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Abdominal swelling in some people
- Tenderness at the region near the umbilicus up to the right iliac spine
Preparations Before an Appendectomy Is Carried Out
As previously mentioned, the majority of the operations carried out to remove the appendix are emergency surgeries. As a result, your actions are largely limited to the instruction that the surgeon gives you. You must be ready to adhere to the surgeon’s instructions to the letter. Furthermore, it is your life that hangs in the balance here.
You may decide not to do what you are instructed at your own risk. However, it is important to remember that a lack of adherence to the instructions that your surgeon has provided is highly risky. One wrong move could claim your life. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you follow the advice and instructions of your surgeon as they are only trying to help you. Generally, the advice that the surgeon gives to you, if you are an emergency patient, will be on the subject of food. It is advised that you not consume any foods. Though it is likely you will not feel like consuming anything anyways, as one of the symptoms you are experiencing is loss of appetite.
Medications to treat nausea and vomiting, which are symptoms that can often be experienced, will be given to you. Nausea and vomiting are the first symptoms that are treated. In some instances, you may be given antibiotics before the actual surgical procedure.
Medical Issues That Are Considered
Upon arriving at the hospital, a patient will first undergo a physical examination before the procedure is performed. This examination is used to better ascertain the current physical state of the patient. The tests that are performed during this examination include:
- The rate at which you are breathing
- Your blood pressure
- Body temperature
In cases where the diagnosis made by the doctor is uncertain, further examination may be conducted just to be certain. If further examination is required, the tests that will be performed include:
- Blood testing
- CT scanning
All of these are necessary before the actual operation is undertaken. Deciding what type of operation you will need is dependent on how severe your appendicitis is from the diagnosis. Your surgeon will clarify anything you might need to know or what you are unsure about concerning the operation. Afterwards, he or she will discuss the procedure options that are available to you.
There are two main surgical techniques that are used to perform an appendectomy. These techniques include:
- Open appendectomy – In this case, an incision is made through the skin and the underlying tissue in order to arrive at the appendix through the abdominal muscle.
- Laparoscopic appendectomy – Three small incisions are made in the abdomen allowing a passage through which some instruments are inserted. The abdominal wall is separated from the organs through pumping a gas into the abdominal cavity. Hence, easing the viewing and examination of the appendix together with other internal organs.
Preparation for an appendectomy is really not much of a big deal. A lot of what comes into play is following the doctor’s instructions. Do not eat anything before the procedure to remove the appendix. The first step after experiencing signs and symptoms associated with appendicitis is to visit the doctor or surgeon. A further examination is administered to you after which an appendectomy may be used to remove the infected appendix.