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An inflammation of the appendix


Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix. Patients with appendicitis may complain of pain in the right lower abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite.1 An early inflammation of the appendix may lead to an irritation near the umbilicus. However, when the inflammation is already severe then the pain is felt particularly when pressure is applied to the muscles of the iliac fossa, near the appendix. A severe type of appendix can be life-threatening when the appendix ruptures causing painful inflammation of the peritoneum and sepsis.

Appendicitis is caused when the hollow portion of the appendix is blocked often by calcified fecal stones. Other possible causes of blockage are gallstones, tumors, parasites, or inflamed lymphoid tissues. The blockage may distend the appendix, decrease blood flow to the affected tissues, and incite bacterial growth. This causes the appendix to become inflamed and if left untreated may rupture, releasing bacteria.

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1 Graffeo, C. S. & Counselman, F. L. (1996). "Appendicitis.". Emergency medicine clinics of North America 14 (4): 653–71.