Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do you get appendicitis?"
Both of my parents have had their appendix removed. I'm afraid it runs in the family and I'll get appendicitis too. How do you get it? Is there any way to avoid it?
I am sorry to hear that you are worried you may develop appendicitis since both of your parents have had it. The appendix is a vestigial structure (meaning that it doesn't have a significant known function in the human body) that is a small tubular structure that is a "blind pouch" which comes off the intestine at the junction of the small and large bowel. Any time that "-itis" is added onto an anatomic term means that there is inflammation of the structure. Acute appendicitis is thought to result from obstruction of the lumen of the appendix with something (typically a fecalith, or "stool stone") and causes a local infection. The danger, and fact that the condition is classified as a medical emergency, lies in the fact that when inflamed and infected, the appendix can burst spilling infected stool into the peritoneal cavity (the abdominal cavity that holds most of the visceral organs). Once someone develops appendicitis, the treatment is usually to removed the appendix before it ruptures either through an open surgical technique (laparotomy), or by using scopes (laparoscopic approach). There isn't much published on the prevention of appendicitis, as it results from a piece of stool obstructing the appendix. Some argue to make sure that bowel habits are healthy (i.e. moderately soft, but not runny stools), and regular (not allowing oneself to become constipated). I hope that this is informative and answers your question. If you have more questions, I would recommend making an appointment to discuss it with a primary practice physician, or a general surgeon. Best of luck.
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