Acute inflammation of the appendix. The cause is usually not known, but appendicitis is sometimes caused by obstruction of the appendix by a lump of faeces. The 1st symptom is usually vague discomfort around the navel. Within a few hours, this develops into severe, more localized pain, which is usually most intense in the lower righthand side of the abdomen. Symptoms may differ if the appendix is not in the most common position. For example, if the appendix impinges on the ureter, the urine may become bloodstained. The usual treatment for appendicitis is appendicectomy, which is often performed endoscopically (see minimally invasive surgery). If the treatment is delayed, an inflamed appendix may burst, releasing its contents into the abdomen. This leads to peritonitis and, in some cases, an abscess.


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