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Robert Sewell, MD, FACS

Minimally Invasive Surgeon - Southlake, Texas

The pain is often made worse by movement, and patients typically have considerable tenderness over the area of the appendix. At times other conditions can mimic appendicitis with very similar symptoms. It is also possible to have appendicitis without some or most of the characteristic symptoms. For these reasons it is difficult to be certain of the diagnosis in every case. Whenever appendicitis is suspected, an evaluation by a physician at the nearest emergency room is strongly recommended as soon as possible.

Testing for Appendicitis

The most reliable tests are often a careful history of the symptoms, and a physical examination by an experienced physician. An abdominal CAT scan or ultrasound often are used to identify an inflamed appendix. When combined with blood tests showing an elevation of the White Blood Cell count, the diagnosis can be made with a relatively high degree of confidence in most cases. However, other conditions can sometimes simulate appendicitis, which can lead to a degree of uncertainty in some cases. In most situations, if appendicitis is suspected, it is actually safer to proceed with an emergency appendectomy rather than running the risk of a ruptured appendix due to a delay in surgical treatment.

Minimally Invasive Treatment Options

Laparoscopic Surgery can frequently be used to perform an appendectomy. Unlike most open surgery methods, the laparoscopic approach allows the surgeon to inspect the entire abdomen to confirm the diagnosis prior to removal of the appendix. Following laparoscopic appendectomy most patients are able to leave the hospital within 24 hours or less and are able to return to normal activity within a week or two. In cases of ruptured appendicitis it may be necessary to remain hospitalized for a few days to receive adequate antibiotic treatment.

What is the Appendix?

​The appendix is a small, finger-like structure attached to the colon. Its located in the right lower part of the abdomen. During infancy the appendix functions as part of the immune system, but after the first two or three years of life it no longer has any known function.

Symptoms of Appendicitis

Appendicitis is defined as inflammation of the appendix. The main symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain, usually starting in the middle of the abdomen and gradually moving down into the right lower part of the abdomen.

  • Right lower abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever