Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Appendicitis is a condition that is not very common but when it does occur, it needs immediate medical attention. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about appendicitis in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a hollow sac about the size of your little finger, attached to the large intestine where the small and large intestines join. It is normally located in the lower right area of the abdomen.

The appendix has no known function. Normally, it is open to the intestine, but it can become blocked by hardened stool, swollen tissue or parasites.

Appendicitis occurs when bacteria grow in the blocked appendix and cause it to become swollen and infected. If the infection progresses, the swelling can cut off the blood supply to the appendix, killing the tissue.

Abdominal pain is the main symptom. Other key symptoms are loss of appetite, fever, nausea and vomiting.

Surgery to remove the appendix usually cures the problem, unless the appendix has ruptured.  When this happens, infection is released into the lining of the abdominal cavity, or peritoneum.  This peritonitis is potentially deadly and must be treated aggressively with hospitalization and antibiotics.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.