Appendicitis is an all too common condition, affecting 250,000 people every year. Appendicitis occurs in roughly 7% of people in the United States, with 1.1 cases per 1000 people reported annually. It’s fairly common knowledge that pain on the right side of your abdomen might mean trouble with the appendix, but there are many other symptoms and early warning signs that may go unnoticed because people are not aware they are linked to appendicitis.
An early diagnosis of appendicitis is critical to prevent serious side effects, and it’s important that any medical professional you see properly evaluate you for appendicitis if you are showing any signs of this dangerous condition. If your doctor ignores these common signs, you may suffer the consequences of their negligence – and may have standing to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What Is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is an inflammation of your appendix. The appendix is a small, finger shaped pouch that is attached to your colon, on the lower right side of your abdomen. Luckily, it is an organ that can be removed easily, and that we can thankfully live full and healthy lives without.
Unfortunately, the cause of appendicitis is often never identified. Most commonly, it is believed that inflammation begins when part of the appendix becomes blocked or obstructed. When the appendix is blocked, bacteria inside multiply rapidly, causing the appendix to swell and fill with pus. If not treated promptly, the appendix can burst and rupture, which can spread infection throughout your abdomen, and is considered a life threatening emergency.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Appendicitis?
While most people assume that the pain from an inflamed appendix would be centered on the lower right part of their torso, in the majority of individuals, pain typically starts around the navel and then moves from there. Pain increases as the inflammation worsens, eventually becoming severe.
Pain from appendicitis typically starts off feeling very dull, becoming sharp as it migrates towards your lower right abdomen. Along with this increase in pain, some patients experience:
Little Known Early Warning Signs of Appendicitis
Though abdominal pain is the most common sign of appendicitis, there are many other symptoms a patient may experience, sometimes even before they notice abdominal pain. These symptoms include:
- Pain in the back or rectum (either dull or sharp)
- Pain with urination
- Pain that gets worse with coughing or jarring movements
- Severe cramping
- Severe gas (flatulence)
- Loss of appetite
These additional symptoms can easily be overlooked by a physician, leading to a delayed diagnosis of appendicitis, and therefore a delay in critical, life-saving care.
How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
Appendicitis can often be misdiagnosed on an initial visit. Abdominal pain could indicate a wide array of issues, from problems with the gallbladder, intestines, or even urinary tract infections.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis, doctors need to perform a variety of tests, including:
- Abdominal exam
- Blood tests
- Abdominal X-ray
- Abdominal ultrasound
- CT scan
Once appendicitis is detected, the inflamed appendix will be immediately removed, and most patients recover within a few weeks. But if appendicitis is left undiagnosed, it can have disastrous consequences.
What Happens When Appendicitis Is Misdiagnosed?
A misdiagnosis means that the removal of the appendix will be delayed, which can have serious consequences for a patient. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will burst open and spill bacteria into the patient’s abdominal cavity. This is the area that contains your liver, stomach, and intestines.
When bacteria enter the abdominal cavity, this can lead to peritonitis, a severe inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. Peritonitis can be deadly unless quickly treated with strong antibiotics.
What To Do if a Doctor Missed Early Warning Signs of Appendicitis?
If your physician failed to properly evaluate you for appendicitis after you showed some of the early warning signs of the condition, you may have standing to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, and will need the help of an experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer.
Of course, a missed diagnosis of appendicitis is not always indicative of negligence. But if you have questions about the way your case was handled, the skilled team at Thistle Law can offer you a free consultation to determine if you want to file a lawsuit. Call us today at 215-525-6824 or fill out our form here.