The appendix is a finger like extension of the large intestine and is found in the right lower quadrant. It has no function or use in the body, an inflammation or infection of this appendix is called as appendicitis. Now, appendicitis can occur if the appendix is blocked by hard and calcified stool, what we refer to as fecalith, where this blockage may allow for bacteria to multiple and cause the infection. It can affect people in all age groups. Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain requiring surgery in children. Now abdominal pain is one of the most significant of the complaints. The pain begins in the area around the umbilicus, which is your belly button, and it moves to the right lower abdomen to a specific point what we medically call as the Mcburney’s point. Now the pain can become progressively worse wherein the child may start finding it difficult to walk or even to climb.
Now the other symptoms that usually appear after the abdominal pain include fever, which is usually low grade, there can be some nausea and vomiting. There may be some infrequent mucousy diarrhea. Now if the appendicitis goes undiagnosed for about 36 to 48 hours the appendix may rupture and it may perforate the intestine thereby causing the abdominal pain to become more generalized all over the abdomen and the fever may start to spike
Appendicitis is very challenging to diagnose for your doctor, especially in young children. A physical examination is the key method by which most appendicitis is diagnosed or suspected. Your doctor may press on the right lower abdomen to look for any signs of increased pain after of course obtaining a history about this pain. Now after the physical examination your child may be sent for blood test to analyze a cell count and also to obtain a blood type and group in case of surgery. Your child may also be asked for a urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection as the possible cause for this abdominal pain. An ultrasound or a CT of the abdomen may be required to aid in the diagnosis.
If your child has any symptoms of appendicitis, make sure you take him or her to see your doctor right away. Do not give painkillers before the examination as it may mask the pain and delay the diagnosis. Do not give laxatives as it may increase the risk of perforation. Now appendectomy, that is surgical removal of the appendix, is the only definitive treatment for appendicitis and it is performed by either an open incision or laparoscopically. Now laparoscopy can allow for a shorter recovery period so is quite popular. Do not give your child anything to eat or drink once there is a suspicion of appendicitis, thereby allowing to operate as soon as possible. Now in a non perforated appendicitis, it requires very minimal pre-operative preparation. The surgery is performed within few hours of the diagnosis and the patient is sent home in about two to three days once they are able to tolerate feeds. Recovery period is usually about one to two weeks. Now in perforated appendicitis, the child is going to require intravenous antibiotics a few hours before the surgery and the child may be required to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time until complete stabilization. The recovery period may be anywhere between two to four weeks