Acute appendicitis is considered to be the most common cause of abdominal pain and distress in children and teenagers worldwide (ages 4-15). According to its seriousness and rate of development, appendicitis can be either acute or chronic. Acute appendicitis develops very fast and in most cases it requires immediate surgical intervention. Chronic appendicitis is rare, develops slower and has less pronounced symptoms. Acute appendicitis can become severe if it is not discovered and treated in time.
Acute appendicitis refers to complete obstruction of the vermiform appendix. Bacterial infections are also a cause of acute appendicitis. The appendix is a tubular extension of the large intestine and its function is thought to be related with the process of digestion. When the appendix is blocked by calculus and feces or it is squeezed by the lymph nodes (due to bacterial infection, the lymph nodes usually become swollen and press against the appendix), it swells and usually doesn’t receive enough blood. Bacteria grow inside the appendix, eventually causing its death. In acute appendicitis, the inflammation of the appendix is serious and can lead to complications (perforation, gangrene, sepsis). Acute appendicitis is a surgical emergency and most patients with this form of illness already have complications before entering the operation room.
The most common symptoms of acute appendicitis are intense, continuous abdominal pain (at first it occurs in the umbilical region and later locates in the right lower region of the abdomen) that usually amplifies during movement, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea and fever. Although the symptoms of acute appendicitis have an unspecific character (they are also characteristic to many other conditions), if they occur together they can indicate the presence of the illness. However, in atypical forms of acute appendicitis, the patients may have only one symptom or they may not have any symptoms at all! This complicates the process of correctly diagnosing acute appendicitis and the only effective means of discovering the illness are abdominal computerized tomography, blood analysis and detailed physical examination.
Despite the medical advance and the multitude of antibiotics available in present, surgery remains the first option in the treatment of acute appendicitis. In generalized, uncomplicated appendicitis, doctors may choose to prescribe a treatment with antibiotics to deal with the inflammation and bacterial infection of the appendix. However, the obstruction of the appendix can only be corrected through surgery. In order to prevent the recurrence of appendicitis and the development of complications, doctors prefer to surgically remove the diseased appendix.
The surgical intervention performed in acute appendicitis is called appendectomy. If acute appendicitis is treated in time, the patients recover quickly and effortless. Most patients are fully recovered within 4 weeks from surgery. However, in the case of complicated acute appendicitis, the patients require special monitoring before and long after the surgical treatment. Complicated acute appendicitis is life-threatening and the rate of mortality in patients with this form of illness is considerably high. Acute appendicitis requires immediate treatment.