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Appendicitis

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis in infants is inflammation of the appendix, typically due to obstruction of the appendix by fecal matter, swollen lymphoid tissue, or a foreign body. This obstruction can lead to bacterial overgrowth and infection, resulting in inflammation, swelling, and potential complications such as perforation or abscess formation.

What causes appendicitis?

The exact cause of appendicitis in infants is not always clear, but it is thought to result from a combination of factors, including:

  • Obstruction: Blockage of the appendix by fecal matter, swollen lymphoid tissue, or a foreign body can lead to inflammation and infection.

  • Infection: Bacterial overgrowth within the appendix can lead to infection and inflammation.

  • Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing appendicitis.

  • Other factors: Certain conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or congenital abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract, may increase the risk of appendicitis in infants.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Symptoms of appendicitis in infants can be nonspecific and may vary depending on the age of the infant and the severity of the condition.

 

Common symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, which may be localised to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen

  • Irritability or fussiness

  • Changes in feeding habits, such as decreased appetite or refusal to eat

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Swelling or tenderness in the abdomen

  • Guarding or rigidity of the abdomen

  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea

How to treat appendicitis?

Treatment of appendicitis in infants typically involves surgical intervention to remove the inflamed appendix (appendectomy). This procedure is usually performed as soon as possible after diagnosis to prevent complications such as perforation or abscess formation. In some cases, if the diagnosis is uncertain or if the infant is too ill to undergo surgery immediately, antibiotics may be administered to control infection and inflammation temporarily.After surgery, most infants recover well with appropriate postoperative care, including pain management, fluid and nutrition support, and monitoring for complications.

 

Complicated cases, such as those involving perforation or abscess formation, may require additional treatment, such as drainage of abscesses or prolonged antibiotic therapy.It's important for parents and caregivers to seek prompt medical attention if they suspect their infant may have appendicitis, as early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for a successful outcome.

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