Dr. Jaudy explains the roots and causes of appendicitis.
Inflammation of the appendix (appendicitis) has numerous possible causes. In this article, I will discuss several of these causes in detail, as well explain the vital function of the appendix.
The main cause of appendicitis is an overload of bacterial infection that comes from the colon due to decreased peristaltic movement and electrochemical organ dysfunction. If you decrease signal propagation to an organ, it decreases in function. When it decreases in function, it can become overloaded. The secretions of the appendix will not be able to keep up with destroying the bacterial infection and, as a result, the appendix becomes inflamed and swells. If it continues to swell, it can burst leading to septicemia (bacteria in the blood stream), which can be fatal.
Let’s define what the appendix is. The appendix is situated in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen and connects the cecum with the large intestine.
The function of the appendix is intimately connected to the functions of the neuroendocrine and immune systems, the bowel mucosa, and the immunoglobulin (antibodies) of the intestinal lumen and secretions. Although it was once thought that the appendix did not have a function, we now know that the appendix plays an important role in the immune system. 1 When the appendix is removed, you remove a major immune defense from the body.
Anytime you see the suffix ‘-itis’, you know that we are talking about inflammation. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. There are two main categories of appendicitis: (1) acute appendicitis, which is an isolated incident of appendicitis, and (2) chronic appendicitis, which is recurrent appendicitis.
Appendicitis can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, progressive pain, painful coughing, painful sneezing, constipation, loss of appetite, fever, and more. If the appendix ruptures or is perforated, it can lead to abscess and peritonitis (inflammation of the inner wall of the abdomen), as well as septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream).
Appendicitis is commonly believed to be due to obstruction of the inside space of the appendix (appendix lumen). However, recent research shows that this is unlikely to be the cause in a majority of cases. 2
There are many different regions of the appendix, which may become inflamed and for different reasons. For example, inflammation may be intraluminal (inflammation inside the appendix tube), mucosal (inflammation of the mucous membrane), submucosal (inflammation of connective tissue below the mucous membrane), suppurative (phlegmonous) (inflammation of cellular or areolar tissue that produces pus), gangrenous (inflammation due to insufficient blood supply), or around the vermiform appendix (periappendicitis). 2
Causes of the different forms of appendicitis include:
- Neoplasm (abnormal growth, including tumor) 3 4 5
- Parasitic infection (parasites such as enterobiasis, amoebiasis, ascariasis, ascariasis with trichuriasis, and taeniasis). 3 4
- Mucocele (enlargement or protrusion of the mucous membrane of the lacrimal passages* or edema (swelling) of the lacrimal sac*) 3 4
- Diverticulosis (abnormal projection of the mucous membrane, similar to mucocele) 3
- Tuberculosis (an infectious disease that can lead to abnormal formations in the appendix) 4
- Mucinous cystadenoma (a benign cystic tumor lined with mucous membrane) 5
- Carcinoid (neuroendocrine tumor) 4 5
- Adenocarcinoma (cancerous growth; type of neoplasm) 4 5
*The lacrimal passages and lacrimal sac are structures related to secretions in the appendix.
Although not the cause in a majority of cases, appendicitis may also be caused by obstructions including bezoars (masses in the gastrointestinal tract), swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), calcified fecal deposits (appendicoliths or fecaliths), and more.
- Scientific American. What is the Function of the Appendix? Did It Once Have a Purpose that has Since Been Lost? October 21, 1999. Accessed November 13, 2014. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-function-of-t/
- Carr NJ. The pathology of acute appendicitis. Annals of diagnostic pathology 4.1 (2000): 46-58.
- Blair PN, et al. Review of the pathologic diagnoses of 2,216 appendectomy specimens. The American journal of surgery 165.5 (1993): 618-620.
- Gupta SC, et al. Pathology of tropical appendicitis. Journal of clinical pathology 42.11 (1989): 1169-1172.
- Marudanayagam R, Williams GT, Rees BI. Review of the pathological results of 2660 appendicectomy specimens. Journal of gastroenterology 41.8 (2006): 745-749.