As many as 70,000 children in the United States will experience appendicitis this year. At California Pediatric Surgical Group in Santa Barbara, and Ventura, California, offices, the skilled surgeons perform appendectomies to prevent serious health complications. The team also treats emergency appendicitis when the appendix ruptures. To find out more about surgical options for appendicitis, schedule a consultation at the California Pediatric Surgical Group nearest you by calling the office or requesting an appointment online today.
Appendicitis is a condition where the appendix is inflamed or infected. The appendix is an extension of your intestine that sits in the lower right side of the belly and has no known function in the body.
The inflammation or infection associated with appendicitis often results from a blockage of stool or the swelling of nearby lymph tissue. This blockage doesn’t allow mucus and other fluids to drain from the appendix, causing increased pressure and swelling that cuts off blood supply to the appendix.
If bacteria develop in the appendix causing an infection, it’s possible that portions of the appendix wall will die off, leaving a hole that allows the appendix to rupture.
Early signs of appendicitis include pain near the belly button and changes in your child’s appetite. As appendicitis progresses, your child may experience a worsening of pain and symptoms like:
Young children who can’t communicate their discomfort may refuse to eat or walk because of pain. Since they can’t express what’s bothering them, children 5 and under are at highest risk for an appendix rupture.
Your pediatrician can confirm appendicitis during a review of symptoms and a physical exam. Blood testing can also confirm or rule out an infection in the appendix.
Imaging tests, like X-rays and ultrasounds, may be necessary to evaluate the size of the appendix or identify other abnormalities causing abdominal pain.
If infection is present, your pediatrician first provides a course of antibiotics to clear it then refers your child for surgery.
The standard treatment for appendicitis is to remove the appendix during a procedure known as an appendectomy. The team at California Pediatric Surgical Group offers laparoscopic and open appendectomy techniques, depending on your child’s health and medical needs.
During a laparoscopic appendectomy, your child’s surgeon makes several small incisions near the abdomen. They insert a special instrument with an attached camera that sends back real-time images of internal structures to an external monitor. Your California Pediatric Surgical Group surgeon watches the monitor as they carefully remove your child’s appendix.
An open appendectomy is similar, but the incisions to access the appendix are larger and require a longer recovery time than laparoscopy.
Your child’s surgeon provides after-care instructions to care for their incisions and may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
To find out more about surgery for appendicitis, schedule a consultation at the California Pediatric Surgical Group office nearest you online or by phone today.