Appendicitis: Risks, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Appendicitis is defined by inflammation of the appendix, a natural diverticulum extending from the first segment of the large intestine, called the cecum. Appendicitis can affect all age groups.

In its most typical form, it is an inflammation of the inner layer of this structure, the mucosa, following its obstruction and the development of germs within it. Acute appendicitis requires prompt surgical care to remove the organ, called an appendectomy. Indeed, in the absence of treatment, the appendix can rupture into the peritoneal cavity that surrounds the abdominal organs, a situation that is referred to as appendicular peritonitis.

It is most common in individuals between the ages of 10 and 30 years old. It is both rare and quite difficult to diagnose appendicitis in someone under the age of 5.


Appendicitis can quickly develop into peritonitis, a very serious, acute abdominal infection causing severe abdominal pains and a very hard abdomen.


Appendicitis is usually associated with: mild fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit); pain in the lower right or left side of the abdomen, near the groin, that radiates down to the leg and worsens when walking or coughing; nausea and vomiting; loss of appetite; bowel dysfunction (diarrhea or constipation); headaches; and a tongue covered with a whitish coating.

Appendicitis is an emergency and can lead to peritonitis, which is life threatening. Contact a doctor or emergency services right away.


Abdominal pain, usually located at the lower right side of the abdomen and is the most usual sign of appendicitis. A rectal examination, carried out by a doctor, will aggravate this pain.

A full blood count is also necessary. An increase — or, in some cases, a decrease — in the number of white cells indicates an infection of some kind.

A X-ray of the abdomen is a useful examination tool that helps to exclude other pathologies and to confirm a diagnosis of appendicitis. An ultrasound scan is better at examining soft tissue and can reveal inflammation around the appendix, which can also help differentiate appendicitis from a gynecological or urinary anomaly. Children are always closely monitored and only proceed to surgery if appendicitis is suspected.


Surgery for appendicitis is performed as soon as possible to avoid any complications that could be detrimental to your health. Beforehand, pain is relieved by analgesics, and antibiotics are started. During the operation, called an appendectomy, the appendix is removed and the peritoneal cavity is cleaned in case of perforation. An opening in the abdominal wall can be made. Following the surgery, you will be kept in the hospital for a few days.
Ask a question
CCM is a leading international tech website. Our content is written in collaboration with IT experts, under the direction of Jeff Pillou, founder of CCM reaches more than 50 million unique visitors per month and is available in 11 languages.


This document, titled « Appendicitis: Risks, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment », is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM Health (