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Appendicitis acuta (Latin name)

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Appendicitis is a critical reason for abdominal pains. The abdominal pains are located in the whole abdomen and intensify when the child walks runs or jumps. Typically, the child has a fever and the stool is loose. You should call the doctor immediately, if you suspect appendicitis.

The appendix is a small pouch on the colon. It is located on the right side of the stomach below the navel. It is about 10 cm, width frequently 1 cm. The function of the appendix is unknown.

Appendicitis is a critical reason for abdominal pains. Every fourth person operated for appendicitis is a child less than 15 years old. The disease is rare, if the child is less than 2 years old.

A child with appendicitis complains about abdominal pain, vomits and have a fever. The abdominal pain is located all over the stomach and not necessarily in the lower right side of the stomach – as it is with adults. The pain is constant and gets worse when you move. Typically, the child will complain about pain in the stomach when it is running or jumping. Usually, there is a fever up to 38,5oC and the stool is loose.

Typically, it hurts if you are pressing the child on the stomach. Most children will also have stomachache, when they cough.

Appendicitis is a difficult diagnosis to make – even for the doctor. With children, the stomachache is not only localized in the lower part of the stomach – as with adults – but often in the whole stomach. Therefore, it is extra difficult to make the diagnosis with children. Half of the children that are operated because the doctor means that it is appendicitis do not have this disease. In those cases, there is another cause of the abdominal pain.

An inflamed appendix can break. It is the same that happens with a pimple or boil, suddenly it breaks and thick pus oozes out. If the appendix break, the pain in the stomach will increase and the temperature rises to between 38,5oC and 39,0oC. Since the pus is running out in the stomach, there is a risk that the inflammation can spread in the stomach. If this happens, the temperature will rise further, the stomachache will increase and the child’s general condition deteriorates (lies still in bed, will not play, watch TV or listen to a story).

If the doctors suspect that your child has appendicitis, they will operate as quickly as possible. At the operation, they remove the appendix. There are rarely complications with this kind of operation. Less than 3 % of the operated persons will develop inflammation in the wound or in the stomach.

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child

What can you do?

The most important thing to do is to contact your doctor immediately, if you suspect that you have appendicitis.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

Never necessary – you must call if you suspect that you have appendicitis.

Contact the doctor immediately

If you suspect that you have appendicitis.