fbpx

COVID-19 update:  Our hospital is still fully open for appointments and admissions, however visitors are not permitted.

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful inflammation of the appendix, a small tube of tissue attached to the colon. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity.

It starts with an intermittent pain in the middle of the stomach that develops quickly and travels to the lower right-hand side, where the appendix lies, becoming constant and severe.

It is a common condition accounting for around 40,000 hospital admissions a year and, although it can develop at any age, it is more common in people ages ten to 20-years-old.

What causes appendicitis?

Most cases of appendicitis are thought to be caused when something blocks the entrance of the appendix, a small, thin pouch measuring 5 to 10 cm.

It is usually the result of infection, possibly of the stomach, or an obstruction, usually a hard piece of stool (faeces) that gets trapped in your appendix, and the bacteria in the stool then infects the appendix. Once bacteria enter your appendix, they rapidly multiply, causing the appendix to swell and become filled with pus.

The causes are not fully understood so there is no guaranteed way of preventing appendicitis.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Patients can experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, cramp like pain, constipation, high temperature and diarrhea. The pain can worsen by coughing, sneezing or even walking.

The pain can be severe enough to wake someone who is sleeping. It can start with similar mild nausea symptoms of a stomach bug but if it continues to get worse and the pain develops in the lower right abdominal area then you should seek medical attention.

Diagnosis of appendicitis

Only 50% of appendicitis conforms to typical symptoms so it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. Sometimes the pain is gastroenteritis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation or a bladder infection. Some people’s appendixes are sited in slightly different positions. But GPs can usually diagnose by examining the abdomen and applying pressure to the site of the appendix.

In more complex cases, a blood or urine test can check for infection and an ultrasound or CT scan will determine if they appendix is swollen.

Treatment of appendicitis

Mild cases can be treated with antibiotics but in the majority of cases the appendix will have to be surgically removed in a procedure known as an appendectomy, performed through open surgery or keyhole surgery. A prompt operation can result in most patients being allowed home within 24 hours with pain and bruising lasting just a few days and comfortably managed with painkillers. The appendix doesn’t perform any important functions so having it removed does not lead to any long-term problems.

Contact us

To ask a question about appendicitis or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm.

Our gastrointestinal specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs. If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment. If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use.Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.

Call us on 020 7078 3802 or email us at gi.unit@hje.org.uk

GI Clinic

The GI Unit is supported by a multidisciplinary team of medical and surgical consultants. Our expert team treats and supports patients with any gastrointestinal conditions.

A patient speaking to a receptionist

Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, ENT, as well as a private GP practice and our urgent care centre, Casualty First, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information then get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 7078 3802.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

 If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP.

If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRI’s a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

    Make an enquiry

    Latest articles

    The latest news, insights and views from St John and Elizabeth Hospital.

    Find out what we’re doing to keep you safe, read expert articles and interviews with our leading specialist Consultants, learn more about common conditions and get your questions answered.

    Remember to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get the latest news sent straight to your inbox.

    a close up of above the pelvic region - a blog post about urology

    23rd July 2021

    What does a urologist do on the first visit?

    We look at the complex world of urology and what to expect on the first visit to a urologist.

    dr showing how to examine breasts for lumps

    16th July 2021

    How regular screenings at a breast clinic can keep you healthy

    Having screenings at a breast clinic can put your mind at rest or allow you to take early action if something abnormal is found.

    private surgeons performing a hernia operation

    09th July 2021

    Scheduled for a hernia operation? Here’s what to expect

    We look at hernias and the different types that can occur, what kind of symptoms might tell you you have a hernia and what to expect if you’re scheduled to have a hernia operation.

    A smiling nurse

    02nd July 2021

    How much does a cervical screening cost?

    Wondering how much a cervical screening costs? We examine this important procedure and…

    a close up of female skin side shoulder view

    18th June 2021

    Checking your skin at a private dermatology clinic

    We examine the functions of the skin, what can go wrong and when…

    a doctor talking to a patient at a private urgent care centre in london

    04th June 2021

    A private urgent care centre for when you need immediate attention

    There’s no need to wait around when you opt for a private urgent…

    A patient waiting at London Urology

    28th May 2021

    The 3 most common prostate problems you need to know about

    One in five men will experience prostate problems at some point in their…

    Fibroscan at The Gi Unit

    14th May 2021

    What is a Fibroscan: Five facts you may not know

    A Fibroscan is a simple, painless and non-invasive procedure used to accurately assess…

    International Nurses Day blog banner

    11th May 2021

    International Nurses Day 2021 at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital

    This year’s theme of International Nurses Day is: “A Voice to Lead –…

    Close up of woman exercising on gym machine

    23rd April 2021

    Mr Dimitrios Tsekes: How to avoid a bicep injury in the gym, and how to treat a bicep tendon tear

    Mr Dimitrios Tsekes, a leading orthopaedic and upper-limb surgeon at our Shoulder Unit,…

    12th March 2021

    Patient safety awareness: our pledge

    Patient safety is at the heart of St John & St Elizabeth Hospital’s…

    03rd March 2021

    Ask the Expert: Cataracts

    Cataracts are a common issue affecting older adults, where cloudy patches form on…