Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Appendicitis

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is caused when small, stone-like pieces of stool (fecaliths, pronounced FEE-kah-liths) block the appendix’s opening. Appendicitis may also come about when a virus makes the appendix swell and become blocked. When the appendix is blocked, bacteria can grow inside and cause infection. Appendicitis symptoms can include pain and swelling.

An inflamed appendix might burst (rupture) if it is not removed. This can spread infection around the belly and lead to serious problems.

Appendicitis in Children

Anyone can get appendicitis, but it is most common in children between the ages of 4 and 15. About 1 out of 12 people (7% to 9%) get appendicitis some time in their life.

Appendicitis at Seattle Children’s

Appendicitis is most often treated with surgery. Your child does not need their appendix and can lead a healthy life without it.

Our surgery team usually performs more than 300 appendicitis surgeries each year, making it the most common emergency surgery at Seattle Children’s. Our surgeons are specially trained in pediatric surgery, which means they understand children’s needs and how their bodies are different from adult bodies.

Contact Us

If you think your child has appendicitis, call your doctor immediately or bring your child to our Emergency Department. If you have questions about appendicitis treatment, call our General and Thoracic Surgery Department at 206-987-2794, extension 4.