Human Anatomy – Appendix

human-anatomy-appendixJust where the large intestine and the small intestine meet, in the lower right part of the belly, is a four-inch, finger-like organ called the appendix.

No one knows exactly what this organ is for. Healthy lifestyle pros believe that the appendix serves as a depot for good bacteria, helping digestive organs recover from diarrhea and similar conditions. Still others say the appendix is an organ rendered unimportant by evolution.

Truly living up to its name, the appendix can be surgically removed without impairing the body’s overall health.

Appendix conditions and diseases

When inflamed or infected, the appendix is said to be suffering from appendicitis. An inflamed or infected appendix can readily burst, the effect of which is profound pain in the abdomen, accompanied by vomiting and nausea. The cause of appendicitis is largely unknown though.

Tumors are known to grow on the appendix, albeit rarely. Epithelial tumors on the appendix may either be cancerous or benign. Carcinoid tumors, on the other hand, produce chemical substances that cause diarrhea, wheezing and flushing.

Treating appendix conditions

Appendicitis is treated solely with appendectomy, or the surgical removal of appendix. A surgeon may opt either for a single incision, which is the conventional technique, or laparoscopic surgery, which requires smaller incisions plus a camera.

Appendix tumors are removed also by surgery. In fact, a piece of the large intestine or colon may be removed if the tumor is sufficiently extensive.

If the doctor is unsure of the condition, whether it’s caused by the appendix or not, he or she may prescribe antibiotics first. The antibiotics can counter the infection, if any, but not appendicitis.

Tests for appendix conditions

Before making a diagnosis, a doctor conducts a thorough physical examination of the abdomen. Abdominal changes may foreshadow an appendicitis in progress.

Like many other conditions, appendicitis tips itself off with an increase in white blood cells. Therefore, a CBC (complete blood count) may be necessary.

All in all, imaging tests are important for making a correct diagnosis regarding appendicitis. An ultrasound or a CT scan (computed tomography) can easily spot an inflamed appendix. The latter can show if an inflamed appendix has burst.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scan, and positron emission tomography (PET) can be used to determine appendix tumor growths.

Human Anatomy Series NavigationHuman Anatomy – SpleenHuman Anatomy – PancreasHuman Anatomy – Intestines
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2 Responses

  1. emagineSUNIL says:

    People who experience lower right abdominal pain often wonder if they are having appendicitis. Perhaps you’ve heard that appendix pain usually becomes constant and worse.

    • José Alberto Costa says:

      É a dor é constante e pior. Para uma avaliação caseira, rápida e fácil, pressione bastante forte com os dedos indicador e vizinho em cima da dor (lado inferior direito do abdômen) e solte repentinamente, se a dor aumentar muito, pode ser uma evidencia de apendicite, é melhor procurar logo uma emergencia médica.

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