Appendix burst: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and Complications

Photo of Appendix burst: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and Complications

Bursting of appendix is a surgical emergency that requires immediate surgery and prompt treatment to prevent complications and death from occurring. The Signs and Symptoms of a perforated appendix (ruptured appendix) are easy to understand and will help you present to the hospital immediately.

There is no specific time that it takes for an appendix to burst and it could occur following a second attack but generally, the more the recurrence rate, the more likely that an appendix is going to burst. The issue is not to wait for it to burst but to seek medical care immediately you suspect you have appendicitis as no one can tell how long it may take before bursting, which may be even when you are sleeping in the middle of the night.

Symptoms and Signs of appendix burst (ruptured appendix)

  1. Persistent Abdominal pain that starts from initial point of the appendix and becomes generalized
  2. Abdominal rigidity: the abdomen becomes so painful that any movement causes severe pain causing the person to tense the muscle and making the abdomen rigid.
  3. Guarding of the abdomen: ruptured appendix irritates a part of the abdomen known as the peritoneum that causes the severe pain experienced. This pain makes the patient to guard against anyone touching the abdomen. The person will not want anyone to touch the abdomen. This is one of the phyical signs elicited during examination in appendicitis that aids in diagnosis
  4. Persistent Fever (pyrexia) that does not resolve
  5. Vomiting: there would be profuse vomiting
  6. Constipation: you may not be able to pass stool for long
  7. Abdominal swelling: abdominal distension may occur because the inflammation affects movement of the bowels
  8. There would be increased heart rate or the pulse rate would be increased
  9. The sounds of the bowels will become silent. Paralysis of the bowel makes the normal sounds usually heard with or without a stethoscope to become absent
  10. The person may look severely dehydrated following profuse vomiting

Complications due to bursting of the vermiform appendix occur mostly in children below the age of 14 years and in adults above the age of 40. This does not mean that rupture of appendix may not occur in other age groups.

Treatment of perforated/ruptured appendix

This is not to be done at home. The definitive treatment is surgery but since it is an emergency, the patient must be resuscitated and stabilized before surgery.

A tube called Nasogastric tube will be passed through the nose to the stomach to help decompress the distension of the bowel, fluids will be given intravenously to correct the loss due to the vomiting and antibiotics are given to fight infections. After stabilizing the patient, surgery is then done to remove the appendix and a lavage is done (washing out of the perforated or ruptured contents).

Complications following bursting of appendix

  1. Severe life threatening Infections
  2. Abscess formation that becomes painful and must be drained. When not drained, it may affect other organs and could even lead to infertility
  3. Appendiceal mass forms at the right lower abdomen
  4. Intestinal obstruction
  5. Death may occur if not treated immediately
  6. Fistula (communication between one part of the intestine with other parts or organs)