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Appendicitis

How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing appendicitis can be tricky. Symptoms of appendicitis are frequently vague or extremely similar to other ailments, including gallbladder problems, bladder or urinary tract infection, Crohn's disease, gastritis, intestinal infection, and ovary problems.

The following tests are usually used to make the diagnosis.

  • Abdominal exam to detect inflammation
  • Urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection
  • Rectal exam
  • Blood test to see if your body is fighting infection
  • CT scans and/or ultrasound

How Is Appendicitis Treated?

Surgery to remove the appendix, which is called an appendectomy, is the standard treatment for appendicitis.

If appendicitis is even suspected, doctors tend to err on the side of safety and quickly remove the appendix to avoid its rupture. If the appendix has formed an abscess, you may have two procedures: one to drain the abscess of pus and fluid, and a later one to remove the appendix.

Appendectomy: What to Expect

Antibiotics are given before an appendectomy to fight possible peritonitis. General anesthesia is usually given, and the appendix is removed through a 4-inch incision or by laparoscopy. If you have peritonitis, the abdomen is also irrigated and drained of pus.

Within 12 hours of surgery you may get up and move around. You can usually return to normal activities in two to three weeks. If surgery is done with a laparoscope (a thin telescope-like instrument for viewing inside the abdomen), the incision is smaller and recovery is faster.

After an appendectomy, call your doctor if you have:

  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Increased pain in your abdomen
  • Dizziness/feelings of faintness
  • Blood in your vomit or urine
  • Increased pain and redness in your incision
  • Fever
  • Pus in the wound

Can Appendicitis Be Prevented?

There is no way to prevent appendicitis. However, appendicitis is less common in people who eat foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 20, 2012

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