The appendix is a narrow tubular pouch attached to the intestines. When the appendix is blocked, it becomes inflamed and results in appendicitis. If the blockage continues, the inflamed tissue becomes infected with bacteria and begins to die from a lack of blood supply, which finally results in the rupture of the appendix (perforated or ruptured appendix).
The American Journal of Epidemiology study found that appendicitis was a common condition affecting approximately 6.7% of females and 8.6% of males. In the U.S. 250,000 cases of appendicitis are reported annually. Individuals of any age may be affected, with the highest incidence occurring in the teens and twenties; however, rare cases of neonatal and prenatal appendicitis have been reported. Increased vigilance in recognizing and treating potential cases of appendicitis is critical in the very young and elderly, as this population has a higher rate of complications. Appendicitis is the most common pediatric condition requiring emergency abdominal surgery.
There is no clear cause of appendicitis. Fecal material is thought to be one possible cause of obstruction of the appendix. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can result in infection, leading to the swelling of the tissues of the appendix wall. The various infecting organisms include Yersinia species, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, actinomycosis, Mycobacteria species, Histoplasma species, Schistosoma species, pinworms, and Strongyloides stercoralis. Swelling of the tissue from inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease also may cause appendicitis.
Appendicitis is not a hereditary disease and is not transmittable from person to person.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/8/2014
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