FEB 26, 2020 7:37 AM PST

Is your kid's stomach ache from appendicitis? Probably not.

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Complaints about a painful belly are a common childhood lament. In such situations, the first thing that comes to concerned parents’ minds is often the possibility of appendicitis. This consideration extends to the emergency room where children showing symptoms of severe abdominal pain around the navel, vomiting or a distended abdomen are often whisked straight into the operating theatre.

Appendicitis results from the acute inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped projection off the colon. If ignored and untreated, an inflamed appendix can rupture, causing bacteria to flood into the abdominal cavity, which has potentially deadly consequences.

 

 

The problem is, without stringent and comprehensive diagnostic protocols for appendicitis, misdiagnoses are frequent occurrences. Researchers from the University of Birmingham reported that in the UK, appendix removal surgeries are the most common emergency procedure in children. Alarmingly, however, one in every six of these children underwent a completely unnecessary operation, with the cause of their abdominal distress eventually identified as not being due to appendicitis at all.

Children subjected to such avoidable surgeries are put at risk of complications and have to contend with long recovery periods and stress. Additionally, in the long run, these needless costs can strain national healthcare system resources.

The authors recommend that to circumvent this problem, urgent improvements need to be made to the way cases of children presenting with abdominal pain are handled. Specifically, more thorough diagnostic tests such as ultrasound imaging need to be performed for medium and high-risk patients prior to committing to surgery. In cases where the ultrasound results prove inconclusive, further imaging tests such as CT scans and MRI should be performed.

Study lead and researcher from the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery, Dmitri Nepogodiev said, “It’s important that children receive the right diagnosis before a decision is made to operate. Ultrasound scans have the advantage that unlike CAT scans they do not expose children to radiation. They have been found to be an effective diagnostic tool in other countries, but we found that in the UK ultrasound is frequently inconclusive. Hospitals should ensure 7-day-a-week availability of ultrasound done by staff specially trained to assess for acute appendicitis in children.”


 

Sources: University of Birmingham, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
DEC 04, 2019
Immunology
DEC 04, 2019
Predicting Death with Clinical Immune Indicators
Immune and inflammation status could help doctors predict which individuals are most at-risk for death. Results from a new study mark the first step toward...
DEC 23, 2019
Technology
DEC 23, 2019
Can Artifical Intelligence Detect Leukemia?
Artificial intelligence has always been a hot topic of discussion in the medical sciences with a whirlwind of applications. However, know the latest curios...
JAN 07, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 07, 2020
Saliva Test for Early Detection of Mouth and Throat Cancer
“OPC is one of the fastest rising cancers in Western countries due to increasing HPV-related incidence, especially in younger patients. It is paramou...
JAN 07, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 07, 2020
Kiss and tell: new test for kissing bug disease
Here’s one Latin lover that you do not want to get kissed by: triatomines, or “kissing bugs”. Known locally as pitos or chipos, these ins...
JAN 04, 2020
Immunology
JAN 04, 2020
Why Do Skincare Products Sometimes Cause Rashes?
Chemicals commonly found in skincare products are intended to avoid interactions with the part of the immune system responsible for triggering allergic inf...
JAN 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 30, 2020
How To Choose The Right DNA Testing Kit For You
One of the most exciting scientific advancements in the past decade, at least in terms of its impact on pop culture, was the sudden accessibility of home D...
Loading Comments...