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Sepsis as a development of Appendicitis

Sepsis as a development of Appendicitis

Appendicitis and a subsequent appendectomy are fairly common occurrences. An appendix isn't vital to our survival and its removal is usually both harmless and helpful. However, if swelling of the appendix is ignored, it can cause a life-threatening outcome.

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is the painful swelling of the appendix and it is thought to occur in 7 8% of people during their lifetime. Your appendix is a small growth at the point where the small and large intestines meet. Its function in our survival is not clear and its removal does not seem to be detrimental to health so this is usually the course of treatment where appendicitis occurs.

In contrast, however, where appendicitis is ignored, it can become very threatening to survival. If appendicitis is not diagnosed, the inflamed appendix can perforate (burst).

Why is a burst appendix a problem?

If an appendix bursts, it means that the bacteria usually contained within the appendix is free to move into the abdominal cavity and the peritoneum that lines the abdomen may become infected. This is known as peritonitis and can be life-threatening. Because of this, a burst appendix is a medical emergency.

If the bacteria released gets into the bloodstream, it can spread throughout the body, affecting the major organs and leading to organ failure and death.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Typical symptoms of appendicitis include the following:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Vomiting
  • High or temperature
  • Loss of appetite

When a patient presents with these symptoms, it is important that the GP undertakes a series of tests as a number of different disorders can produce similar symptoms such as Crohn's Disease, urinary tract infections and several other abdominal disorders.

Your GP should take a blood test, a urine test and carry out an examination of the abdomen.

If appendicitis is diagnosed, you should be put on a course of antibiotics and undergo surgery under general anaesthetic to remove the appendix as soon as possible in order to reduce the risk of the appendix bursting and causing peritonitis.

If your abdominal pain suddenly spreads and worsens it is a sign that your appendix may have burst.

What are the signs that peritonitis has set in?

The symptoms of peritonitis are similar to those for appendicitis but might additionally include fatigue, shortness of breath, chills and constipation.

A burst appendix does not automatically mean that the peritoneum will become infected but it is a serious risk and one that medical practitioners need to respond to immediately, treating the patient with antibiotics and removing the appendix.

Without these measures, the patient can develop sepsis and septic shock. This can be fatal.

Medical Negligence

If your appendicitis symptoms have been ignored, leading to a burst appendix and causing you significant distress, you may be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence. Contact Glynns Solicitors to discuss your case.

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