Understanding Appendicitis -- Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on September 12, 2023
2 min read

Diagnosing appendicitis can be tricky: Time is critical, yet symptoms are frequently vague or extremely similar to other ailments such as bladder infection, colitis, Crohn's disease, gastritis, gastroenteritis, kidney stones, and ovary problems.

Appendicitis may be suspected if your doctor gently presses on your lower right abdomen and this causes pain. A urine test will also be performed to rule out a urinary tract infection. Appendicitis can cause rectal pain instead of abdominal pain. Your doctor may also examine your rectum by inserting a lubricated, gloved finger looking for internal bleeding due to appendicitis. A blood test will show if your white blood cell count is elevated, an indication that your body is fighting infection. CT scans and ultrasound are fast and reliable -- though not perfect -- in revealing appendicitis.


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

If your doctor suspects appendicitis, they will likely quickly remove the appendix to avoid its rupture. If the appendix has formed an abscess, you may have two procedures, one to do a CT-guided drainage of the pus and fluid, and a second one to remove the appendix eight to 12 weeks later. This delayed surgery is called an interval appendectomy.

Antibiotics are given before an appendectomy to fight possible peritonitis or infection of the abdominal cavity's lining. General anesthesia is given, and the appendix is removed through a short incision in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. If you have peritonitis, the abdomen is also drained of pus. Within 12 hours of surgery, you are likely to be up and moving around. You can usually return to normal activities in two or three weeks. If surgery is done with a laparoscope (a thin telescope-like instrument for viewing inside the abdomen), three to four smaller incisions are made. With this procedure, recovery is faster.

After having your appendix removed, keep your incision clean to promote healing and avoid infection. Follow any instructions that your surgeon gave you.

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