A doctor examines the person for tenderness in the abdomen and intestinal area, and sends blood to a lab for tests. People with appendicitis usually have a higher than normal white blood cell count, which suggests infection in the body. The cells may look immature too. The blood tests help sort out whether the problem is in the ovaries or another part of the bowel, or whether there is a general viral infection. These conditions cause similar symptoms, but not usually, a higher white blood cell count.
Occasionally, a CT scan or ultrasound may be done to help with the diagnosis, but usually, a physical examination is enough. Sometimes, exploratory surgery must be done.
If Appendicitis is Left Untreated?
Untreated appendicitis may lead to peritonitis, which is an infection in the membrane (thin protective layer of tissue) lining the abdomen, pelvis and the appendix. Some people get over an attack of appendicitis without having to undergo surgery. However, they may later have episodes of chronic appendicitis or bowel blockages caused by scarring and adhesions, which are fibrous bands that weld organs and tissues together.
After surgery for uncomplicated appendicitis, most people are
- Able to eat and be discharged from the hospital in 24 to 36 hours.
- Able to return to most activities in less than two weeks.