It’s this shape that is thought to contribute to the occurrence of appendicitis. The adult’s thin, sac-like organ contains cells that secrete mucus that drains into the large intestines. The appendix becomes sick when something blocks its ability to drain into the large intestines. The obstruction begins a cycle where the organ swells and that swelling creates pressure, which ultimately leads to the death of the cells that line the appendix, Dr. Lowry said.
The most successful treatment of appendicitis in the United States is the surgical removal of the organ, known as an appendectomy. There are more than 300,000 appendectomies performed across the country each year. The surgery can often be performed laparoscopically if caught early and no perforation of the organ has occurred.
Recent studies have caused a debate as to whether appendicitis can be successfully treated just with antibiotics. However, Dr. Lowry said the research to support that originates out of Europe where appendicitis is still treated through open surgery, which can have a more extensive recovery time. It also comes with the risk that a person will suffer from symptoms down the road.
“Unfortunately, about 20 percent of those patients will have a recurrent bout of appendicitis within a year,” Dr. Lowry said. “That’s a fairly high number of people. Appendectomy is still considered a very safe and successful surgery here in the United States where the complication rate is between one and three percent, which is very low.”
Dr. Lowry said the most important thing is to understand the variety of warning signs that appendicitis can display. Timely treatment of the disease is critical to positive outcomes. Anyone who is experiencing the following symptoms should seek medical attention right way: abdominal pain that is new or unusual that starts at the belly button and migrates to the lower right quadrant, and fever with chills.
“These are the signs that should direct a person to emergency care within 24 hours of experiencing them,” Dr. Lowry said.
Premier HealthNet is one of the largest groups of pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, and urgent care practices in southwest Ohio. For more information, go online to www.premierhealthnet.com/news.