Appendicitis is an acute inflammation of the appendix, which is a small piece of bowel that lies in the right side of the lower abdomen. It has no useful or functional benefits in humans but occasionally it can get blocked or inflamed and cause appendicitis.
Appendicitis usually presents with pain, sometimes starting around the belly button and then moves to the right hand side. The pain tends to be constant and made worse by movement. There may be a raised temperature and there is often loss of appetite and nausea. Vomiting is a common feature. Typically children with appendicitis feel quite unwell in themselves
In most cases, appendicitis occurs due to a blockage of the lumen of the appendix, leading to overgrowth of bacteria and subsequent infection and inflammation.
Once the diagnosis of appendicitis is made it may mean that your child will require an operation – an appendectomy. Although this is an urgent operation, it does not need to happen immediately. It is much more important that your child is treated with antibiotics and given fluids though a drip which will enable them to feel a lot better. The antibiotics and the fluids are actually very successful treatments for appendicitis and this way they have the best possible chance of recovering faster and being discharged quickly following surgery. Sometimes there can be a perceived delay from the time of diagnosis to the time of surgery, but as long as your child has been treated with antibiotics and the fluids, this is all part of the normal treatment plan.
Afterwards your child will require pain relief, fluids through a drip, and will need more antibiotics. Depending on how inflamed or complicated the appendicitis is will impact upon the child’s length of stay. Children with mild appendicitis will only be in hospital for a few days. Children with more severe appendicitis can be in the hospital, on IV antibiotics for at least five days. Over the next number of days the child will be encouraged to get out of bed and return to a normal diet as quickly as possible. As soon as they are well they will be discharged home, however in those children with more complicated or inflamed appendix they will stay for a minimum of five days and recovery can take longer than that. Surgeons and nurses will be assessing your child on a regular basis. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to ask any member of staff.