What is appendicitis?

Updated: Jul 23, 2018
  • Author: Sandy Craig, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Appendicitis is defined as an inflammation of the inner lining of the vermiform appendix that spreads to its other parts. Despite diagnostic and therapeutic advancement in medicine, appendicitis remains a clinical emergency and is one of the more common causes of acute abdominal pain. See the image below.

Transverse graded compression transabdominal sonog Transverse graded compression transabdominal sonogram of an acutely inflamed appendix. Note the targetlike appearance due to thickened wall and surrounding loculated fluid collection.

See Appendicitis: Avoiding Pitfalls in Diagnosis, a Critical Images slideshow, to help make an accurate diagnosis.

Also, see the Can't-Miss Gastrointestinal Diagnoses slideshow to help diagnose the potentially life-threatening conditions that present with gastrointestinal symptoms.


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