Appendicitis Diagnosis

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a 3 1/2-inch-long tube of tissue that extends from the large intestine. No one is absolutely certain what the function of the appendix is. One thing we do know: We can live without it, without apparent consequences.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity's lining (the peritoneum) that can be fatal unless it is treated quickly with strong antibiotics.

Quick Facts


  • Pain in the abdomen, first around the belly button, then moving to the lower right area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Low fever that begins after other symptoms
  • Abdominal swelling


  • Review of medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Laboratory tests such as blood tests and urinalysis
  • Imaging tests such as x-ray, ultrasound, and CT scans


  • Surgery – acute appendicitis is treated by surgery to remove the appendix. Recovery from appendectomy generally takes a few weeks.

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