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Appendicitis in Children

Appendicitis in Children

Appendix is a small finger-like pouch that is attached to the large intestine. This write-up provides information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of appendicitis in children.
Deepa Kartha
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Appendix is referred to as a vestigial structure. It is a worm-like appendage that is attached to the colon. Appendicitis is said to occur, when the appendix gets inflamed. The inflammation usually occurs when the appendiceal lumen (insides of appendix) gets blocked or obstructed. As the mucus backs up in the lumen, bacteria that normally reside inside it begin to multiply, thereby leading to an infection. The blockage could be due to fecal matter, overgrowth of parasites, or a growth. Abdominal trauma, enlargement of the lymph tissue in the wall of the appendix, inflammatory bowel disease, or the presence of ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. hen it gets blocked due to some food or fecal particles, bacteria that normally live within this structure might multiply, thereby causing inflammation. If this condition is not treated on time, the inflamed appendix can even burst, which can prove to be life-threatening.
This condition is rare in infants, and usually affects people in the age group of 10 to 30 years. If children get affected by this condition, it can be difficult for the parents to recognize it immediately, as its symptoms are quite similar to a few other health problems in children.
Symptoms
The symptoms of this condition include:
◘ Abdominal pain that begins near the navel and slowly spreads downwards to its right side
◘ Pain that worsens while taking deep breaths, coughing, and sneezing
◘ Pain that worsens when moving around
◘ Nausea
◘ Vomiting
◘ Loss of appetite
◘ Constipation or diarrhea
◘ Low-grade fever
◘ Abdominal swelling
◘ Inability to pass gas
Diagnosis and Treatment
As these symptoms are prominent in children for other medical conditions, physicians would have to do various tests to understand the exact cause of the symptoms. Sometimes, the pediatrician can understand the cause of the discomfort by just giving a hand pressure test. Other tests that can be done to diagnose this condition include an X-ray examination, CT Scan, blood and urine tests, etc.
The only treatment to cure this condition is surgery. It is very important to operate and remove the inflamed appendix within 72 hours after the child starts experiencing the symptoms. This is due to the fact that the inflamed appendix can rupture, giving rise to life-threatening complications. Parents would be asked not to give the child any food or water to prepare him or her for the surgery. The child may also be given antibiotics and IV, so that other organs of the body may not be affected by the bacteria.
There are two methods of conducting this surgery: open appendectomy and laparoscopic appendectomy. The former is an invasive surgery wherein a large incision is made to remove the inflamed appendix, whereas the latter is a minimally invasive procedure wherein a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision, and the images on the monitor re used by the surgeons, as they insert instruments through small incisions to remove the appendix. Sometimes, it happens that the appendix ruptures before the surgery. Even though such cases are dangerous, the child can still be saved, if the operation is done immediately and antibiotics are administered to the child for a long period of time after the operation.After surgery, the child may be asked to stay at the hospital for 2-3 days, before getting discharged.
The most important thing is that parents should have full knowledge about the symptoms of appendicitis in children. To be on the safe side, it would be beneficial if parents take their children to the physician immediately, if they complain of acute abdominal pain.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.