Appendicitis is considered a rather common pediatric illness. It represents an inflammation of the appendix, a small vermiform tube that is attached to the cecum, the initial part of the colon. Inflammation of the appendix may cause vague symptoms and signs and it may be sometimes hard to be diagnosed. However, it is essential to set the diagnosis on time and perform surgical removal of the inflamed appendix since only this way potential complications associated with appendicitis can be successfully avoided.
Symptoms and Signs of Appendicitis in Children
The symptoms of appendicitis in children do not differ from the symptoms in adults. The only problem is that little children simply cannot provide the appropriate information about the pain and other problems related to inflammation. Some of the symptoms and signs may mimic other medical conditions and this is what makes diagnosing appendicitis rather challenging.
In a majority of cases the inflammation of the appendix starts with the pain that is located in the area of the navel. The pain may gradually move to the right side of the abdomen. Children are simply not able to describe changes in pain and its precise localization and this is why it is essential to perform palpation of the abdomen to determine the exact site of painful sensations. A well experienced doctor can gently palpate the child's belly and discover painful areas of the abdomen.
Apart from pain, appendicitis in children may also lead to low grade fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and increased urination. The child's abdomen is generally swollen.
Diagnosing Appendicitis in Children
As it has already been mentioned appendicitis in children may be mistaken for some other medical conditions. This is why a doctor performs a host of tests. The child undergoes a physical examination and palpation of the abdomen. Complete blood count may point to increase in white blood cells. Even urine tests may be pathological. It is essential to perform an X-ray of the abdomen and the thoracic area and possibly a CT scan and ultrasound of the abdomen which may be of additional help.
Treatment for Appendicitis in Children
The treatment of appendicitis in children is actually the same as the treatment of appendicitis in adults. The child undergoes appendectomy, a surgical removal of the inflamed appendix. Appendectomy may be performed as an open appendectomy or a laparoscopic appendectomy. The doctor decides which surgical approach is more suitable in particular case.
Even in case of rupture of the appendix a child undergoes surgery. In this case the surgeon performs the open appendectomy and cleanses the entire peritoneum from the content that has accumulated after the rupture. In case of rupture the child is administered high doses of antibiotics. Antibiotics are administered to prevent further complication of rupture such as sepsis.