The appendix is a small, finger-shaped organ in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. The human body does not use this organ for any purpose. The main cause of inflammation in the appendix or appendicitis, is a blockage inside it. This organ tends to get blocked by feces or due to some infections caused by bacteria or virus. As a result, pressure builds up inside it, the normal blood flow gets affected and it swells up. When it is badly inflamed and infected, there is a possibility of a ruptured appendix. This is a life-threatening condition, as bursting of the appendix can result in spread of the infection in the entire abdomen.
Symptoms of a Burst Appendix
The symptoms are more or less the same as appendicitis, but their intensity is far more severe. The sharp abdominal pain caused by burst appendix originates from the belly button and spreads to the right side up to the hip area. However, small children may complain about a stabbing pain in the entire abdomen.
This pain starts all of a sudden (mostly in the middle of the night), and turns severe with every passing hour. It gets aggravated with movements, coughing, sneezing, and deep breaths. In the initial stage of appendicitis, the pain comes and goes, but the pain that starts after the appendix is ruptured is intolerable and refuses to die down in spite of all efforts. Even a gentle touch on the appendix area gives extreme pain.
High fever is another key symptom found in these patients once the appendix ruptures. When there is only a minor swelling in the appendix, one gets a mild fever. However, as the inflammation becomes severe, perforations occur in it. Thus the pus accumulated inside the organ is released into the abdominal cavity. The bacteria present in the pus then attacks the lining of the abdominal wall. The body temperature rises when the infection spreads inside the abdomen.
The digestive system is badly affected due to this condition. It leads to improper bowel movements, and the patient either suffers from diarrhea or constipation. Inflamed and ruptured appendix may lead to intestinal blockage. Nausea, frequent vomiting and swelling in the abdomen accompanied by bloated condition indicate seriously damaged digestive system. For this reason, a person loses appetite and stops feeling hungry.
The only treatment option available for appendicitis is surgery. In case of a burst appendix, an appendiceal abscess is formed surrounding the appendix which is full of pus. The formation of this pus-filled mass is a natural mechanism of the body to prevent any further spread of the infection. Before the surgery, this pus has to be drained out. For this, the exact location of the abscess is identified with the help of a CT scan. Then a drainage tube is placed in the abscess through the abdominal wall to empty the pus from the belly. Usually, it takes a few weeks, during which the patient is given intravenous antibiotics and fluids for the treatment of the infection inside the abdomen.
An inflamed appendix is surgically removed with the help of laparoscopy, where three or four small incisions are made on the abdominal wall for this purpose. Surgery for a burst appendix is a more complicated procedure. The patient is released from the hospital only after the doctors have ensured that all the bacteria inside the abdomen have been destroyed.
Burst appendix is a very serious health condition which you cannot afford to ignore. If you find that any of your near and dear ones is experiencing these symptoms, then that the person should be rushed to the hospital for emergency medical care. Quick diagnosis and treatment can prevent the patient from a severe form of infection called peritonitis, which can lead to death of the patient.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.