What is the Appendix?
The Appendix is located on the lower right side of the tummy (abdomen), at the start of the large intestine (colon), where the small intestine joins the latter. The appendix measures between 4 cm to 10 cm and resembles a slender finger. In humans, it serves little purpose and can be safely removed without any long-term side effects. When there is an infection of the appendix, the condition is known as appendicitis.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
- Most commonly, it causes pain in the lower right side of the abdomen
- In some patients, it also results in a loss of appetite, with nausea and vomiting
- It can also causea fever
If appendicitis is not treated, it can burst (rupture) and this can be life threatening.
Surgical removal remains the most effective method of treatment. This is usually performed usually laparoscopic (or keyhole) methods.
Treatment of Appendicitis.
Antibiotics are useful but are not the mainstay of treatment. Surgery is still the preferred choice as it removes the affected appendix and by doing so, prevents a recurrent attack.
Using 2 to 3 ‘keyholes’ cuts on the abdomen, measuring between 1cm to 2cm, the appendix can be safely removed with modern instruments. The smaller cuts mean less pain for patients, a shorter hospital stay and a faster return to normal activities.
The traditional technique involves a larger cut on the right lower abdomen to remove the appendix. This can be associated with more pain and a slower recovery.
Things to Take Note
Thus, the next time you experience pain in the right side of lower abdomen that is persistent and accompanied by fever, don’t simply ignore it. You should come see us for a consultation. In women, it is important to exclude other common conditions like ovarian and other gynaecological issues in women or kidney stones in both genders. Treatment for these conditions are very different and could mean the difference between life-saving surgery or simply medications.