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Appendicitis (cont.)

Appendicitis Diagnosis

Appendicitis is diagnosed by the classic symptoms of appendicitis and physical examination (the health care practitioner's examination of the patient's abdomen).

  • Lab work: Although no blood test can confirm appendicitis, a blood sample is sent for laboratory analysis to check the white blood cell count, which is typically elevated in an individual with appendicitis. However, normal levels can be present with appendicitis, and elevated levels can be seen with other conditions. A urinalysis may be ordered to exclude urinary tract infection (or pregnancy) as the cause of the patient's symptoms.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests are ordered when the diagnosis is not readily apparent. Most medical centers utilize a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis to assist in evaluating abdominal pain suspected of being caused by appendicitis. Ultrasound scanning is commonly used in small children to test for appendicitis in order to avoid exposing the child to radiation from CT scans.

Other conditions that cause abdominal pain may mimic the symptoms of appendicitis making the diagnosis more difficult. These conditions include kidney stones, urinary tract infections, hernias, gallstones and gallbladder problems, colitis, diverticulitis, and ovarian or testicular problems.

Medical Editor:

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Appendicitis »

The appendix is a wormlike extension of the cecum and, for this reason, has been called the vermiform appendix.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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