Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix. The appendix is a small, thin pouch about 5-10cm (2-4 inches) long. It's connected to the large intestine, where stools (faeces) are formed.
Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of tummy (abdomen) that may come and go. Within hours, the pain travels to the lower right-hand side, where the appendix usually lies, and becomes constant and severe. Pressing on this area, coughing, or walking may all make the pain worse. One may lose your appetite, feel sick, and occasionally experience diarrhoea.
This can cause Symptoms such as:
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Being sick
- Loss of appetite
- A high temperature (fever) and a flushed face
In these cases, the operation involves making a single larger cut in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen to remove the appendix. When there's widespread peritonitis – infection of the inner lining of the abdomen – it's sometimes necessary to operate through a long cut along the middle of the abdomen in a procedure called a laparotomy.
As with keyhole surgery, the incision is closed using either dissolvable stitches or regular stitches that need to be removed at a later date. After both types of surgery, the removed appendix is routinely sent to a laboratory to check there are no signs of cancer. This is a precautionary measure, although it's rare for a serious problem to be found.