An appendix may have served some purpose in our ancestors but today very little is known about its function except for its limited role in the maintenance of our immune system and bacterial flora of the gut. Except for these two things it is of very limited use to us and we can even live a perfectly healthy life without it. It can, however, cause trouble for us, once it is inflamed, a condition termed as acute appendicitis.
Acute appendicitis is a very common disease. Every year, more than 2 lacs new cases of acute appendicitis occur in the United States alone and it can affect people from every walk of life.
Acute appendicitis is diagnosed largely on clinical grounds. However, there are certain investigations which are carried out in routine and may be of some value.
Complete Blood Count
Complete blood count tells us about the number of different types of blood cells in addition to some other important parameters. In the case of acute appendicitis, CBC shows an increase in the white cell count.
Urinary tract problems such as urinary tract infection can also present in the form of lower abdominal pain. Thus we can use this simple urine test to helps us distinguish whether the abdominal pain was due to a urinary tract infection or acute appendicitis.
Urinary Beta Hcg to rule out Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy is a condition characterized by the implantation of fertilized ovum anywhere outside its normal location that is the uterus. It can present similarly with the complaints of abdominal pain of acute onset, in addition to nausea and vomiting. A simple test that detects urinary Beta, Hcg, a hormone produced only by the pregnant women confirms if a woman is pregnant or not as if she is pregnant we need to rule out ectopic pregnancy with the help of other investigations.
Ultrasound Abdomen and Pelvis
Ultrasound Pelvis is important especially in females suspected to have acute appendicitis. It will rule out other problems such as ovarian cysts and an ectopic pregnancy that could be responsible for the abdominal symptoms women is having.
Ultrasound abdomen can be significant since it has a high level of sensitivity to the diagnosis of acute appendicitis.
The serious complications that can occur secondary to acute appendicitis are summarized below.
In some cases, the inflamed appendix may rupture. This causes expulsion of the intestinal content along with all those gut bacteria into the abdominal cavity causing a generalized infection of the abdominal cavity that is technically termed as peritonitis and could be fatal at times.
Abscess formation in the appendix
A mass containing abscess may be formed around the appendix that if left untreated can rupture allowing the sepsis to spread throughout the abdominal cavity.
The treatment of choice for the acute appendicitis is to surgically take the inflamed appendix out of the body. This can be achieved via conventional surgical procedures which are usually safe as well as advanced minimally invasive laparoscopic technique.
If you suspect you may have an inflamed appendix, come to Century Medical and Dental Center (Downtown Brooklyn, Gravesend, and Flatbush) for diagnosis.