The appendix is a long, thin pouch that’s shaped sort of a finger. It hangs down from the large intestine, which is also known as colon .
Appendicitis term is used by the doctors use when the appendix gets infected and swells. When it happens, the appendix can burstsometimes. A burst appendix is serious, because it can cause a foul infection.
Appendicitis can happen in children and adults. When it happens in children, it’s more likely to affect older children and teenagers than babies or younger children.
Symptoms are often different, depending on a child’s age. the most common symptoms are:
- Belly pain – In older children and teenagers, belly pain is usually the primary symptom. The pain might start around the belly button then move to the right side of the lower belly. Children also can have belly pain that gets worse with coughing or hopping.
- Fever often starts after couple of days.
- Loss of appetite
Should my child see a doctor? Yes. Call your child’s doctor if your child has the symptoms listed above. If your child does have appendicitis, it is vitally important to get treatment as soon as possible.
Maybe. Your child’s doctor will first ask about the symptoms and do an exam. The doctor may be able to tell if your child has appendicitis without doing any tests.
If the doctor can’t tell for sure if your child has appendicitis, he or she might do one or more of the subsequent tests:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- An imaging test like an ultrasound or CT scan – Imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body.
No test can say of course if a toddler has appendicitis. But the doctor can use the test results, symptoms, and exam to find out how likely it’s that your child has appendicitis.
The main treatment for appendicitis is surgery to get rid of the appendix. Surgery can be done in couple of ways:
- Open surgery – During open surgery, the doctor makes a cut within the belly near the appendix. Then he removes the appendix through the opening.
- Laparoscopic surgery – During laparoscopic surgery, the doctor makes a couple of cuts within the belly that are much smaller than cuts for open surgery. Doctor puts long, thin tools into the belly through these openings. One amongst the tools contains a camera (called a “laparoscope”) on the top, which sends pictures to a TV screen. The doctor can examine the image on the screen to understand where to cut and what to remove. Then he uses the tools to do the surgery.
If your child’s appendix has burst, the doctor will do surgery to get rid of the appendix. During the surgery, he or she is going to also clean out the area within the belly around the appendix to clean away the material that spilled out of the burst appendix. This surgery is often more complicated than the surgery that’s done if the appendix has not burst.
If it’s been over a couple of days since your child’s appendix burst, your child won’t have surgery right away. That is because the body sometimes forms a wall inside the abdomen, to block off the area that became diseased when the appendix burst. In this kind of cases, the doctor will first treat your child with antibiotics and will keep watch on him/her. He or she might take the appendix out once the antibiotics have made your child feel better, or stick a needle in the walled-off area to drain the infected fluid. This treatment is usually done at the same time as an imaging test, so the doctor can see where to place the needle.
After the doctor treats the infection, he or she might recommend that your child have surgery later on.