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The appendix is a tiny pouch located at the top of the large intestine. Appendicitis usually happens as a result of appendix inflammation. If the pus-filled appendix ruptures, the condition is known as perforated appendicitis. With a ruptured appendix, an individual can become severely ill because contents in the intestines can leak into the abdomen, leading to a possibly life-threatening infection. Due to its severity, perforated appendicitis is treated by removing the appendix as soon as possible.
There are several factors that can contribute to a perforated appendix. Sometimes a gastrointestinal viral infection can lead to this condition. More commonly, an obstruction such as fecal matter can create a blockage in the appendix, which can cause bacteria to spread and inflammation to occur. If the appendix swells to the point where it ruptures or perforates, a periappendiceal abscess may form. This is generally a pocket of infection, that must be drained before the appendix can be removed.
Symptoms of a perforated appendix can vary. Generally, the initial pain may occur around the belly button and spread into the lower right side. The abdomen may become swollen and tender to touch. There may also be fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. These symptoms in an individual with a perforated appendix will become worse and more severe as times go on, possibly to the point of collapsing.
It is important to remove a perforated appendix as soon as possible, because a condition known as peritonitis can occur. This is an inflammation of the entire abdominal cavity and happens as a result of intestinal contents entering into the abdomen. If not treated immediately, this condition can lead to death. For this reason, an individual experiencing any symptoms of a possible appendicitis should seek medical help at once to get the appendix removed before it ruptures. A physical examination, blood tests and a diagnostic imaging test will generally be done to give the doctor a detailed perspective on the type of appendicitis present and the extent of damage done to the abdomen.
An appendectomy is the surgical procedure most commonly used to treat perforated appendicitis. This involves the removal of the appendix. The abdominal cavity will also be cleaned of any spilled contents as well. Following the surgery, antibiotics will be prescribed for an extensive amount of time to ensure that all of the infection is removed from the entire abdomen. Typically, an individual with perforated appendicitis may recover a bit slower than an individual without a ruptured appendix, as the surgery is more extensive.