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Pediatric Appendicitis

The appendix is a narrow tube of intestine that extends from the cecum. Appendicitis means the appendix is infected and inflamed. Acute appendicitis can cause abdominal pain and is the most common childhood surgical emergency. 


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What is Pediatric Appendicitis?

Annually, 70,000 cases of pediatric appendicitis occur in the U.S. It occurs most often in children between the ages of 10 and 17. 

The inflammation and infection of the appendix triggers obstructions of drainage and blood flow, so trapped bacteria multiply, distending the appendix and leading to ischemia. Without intervention, inflammation and infection progress to penetrate the appendix. When that happens, bacterial-laden inflammatory fluid leaks into the abdominal cavity, potentially resulting in peritonitis – a serious condition. 

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Appendicitis?

The most common symptom is abdominal pain, which may start in the area around the belly button and move to the lower right-hand side of the abdomen. Other symptoms include fever and vomiting. Symptoms might not show up in children. Delayed diagnosis increases the risk of rupture and its serious complications.

How is Pediatric Appendicitis treated?

The pediatric surgeons at Children’s Health, typically remove the appendix using a minimally invasive method called laparoscopic appendectomy. This procedure uses three small incisions and a camera called a laparoscope to look inside the abdomen during the operation.

A child whose appendix ruptured will have to stay in the hospital longer than the child whose appendix was removed before it ruptured. Some children will need to take antibiotics by mouth for a period of time specified by the physician after they go home.

Pediatric Appendicitis Doctors and Providers