Appendicitis in Pregnancy : Diagnosis

Every expectant mother should know about treatment of appendicitis in pregnancy, which is an inflammation of the appendix that occurs mostly to women between 18 to 30 years of age. It is considered to be a medical emergency since there is no medical therapy that can treat this disease properly once the appendix erupts.

Appendicitis in pregnancy

by sundaykofax under CC BY


Although most patients who experience appendicitis during pregnancy are treated impromptu and have proved to recover with no difficulty, if untreated your appendix could burst causing infection and eventually death in the event of delayed treatment. An appendectomy is reported to be the most acute abdominal surgical emergency.

This disorder is caused by blockage of lumen inside the appendix, which leads to impaired flow of blood, mounting pressure, and inflammation. This blockage ends up with appendix rupture if it is not treated. Signs of appendicitis and pregnancy include:

  • Nauseating feelings
  • Vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain towards lower right areas of belly
  • Loss of appetite

Although abdominal pain is common in women with this disease, with non-obstetrical causes such as appendicitis the pain intensely advances to a point where abdominal surgery could be required during pregnancy. This is mainly done to reduce the risk associated with the fetus as the outcome of the mother determines the outcome of the fetus.

Prior to a diagnostic test a risk-benefit dialogue should be held with your physician as optimal maternal results may call for radiologic imaging, which might even involve ionizing radiation.

With pregnant women, a surgeon has to choose a treatment best suited to this particular patient considering the clinical situation. When appendicitis symptoms tend to be delayed, diagnosis of pregnancy appendicitis can also be delayed. Best outcomes depend on effective communication and awareness of prior evidence-based techniques in the management of surgical conditions and diagnosis.

Below is an outline of the radiological imaging process and work up for appendicitis in pregnancy symptoms diagnosis:

Ultrasound imaging

Ultrasound imaging has proved to be useful and safe in identification of the source of acute pain in the abdomen of a patient during pregnancy. No negative effects to the fetus or mother were reported, and thus it is chosen as the initial radiographic test when dealing with appendicitis and pregnancy.

CT scan radiation

Applying a low radiation dosage, CT scan radiation is used in evaluating abdominal pain in pregnant patients with caution but generally considered safe with only a minimal level of risk on fetus organ development. Being pregnant during this procedure should not be a major risk as radiation exposure to the fetus should be extremely low.

Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI)

With an MRI appendicitis pregnancy is at low risk. The MRI can be done at any time within the pregnancy period as it offers magnificent imaging on soft tissues in the absence of ionizing radiation and proves to be safe to pregnant mothers. No negative effects of magnetic resonance imaging on the development of the fetus have so far been reported.

So many signs of this disease are mimicked by a number of other conditions that it could interfere with the important immediate diagnosis of appendix pain. Therefore, it is the duty of the physician to carry out all tests required. This will ensure that the condition is diagnosed correctly to avoid adversely affecting the fetus and the mother. Failure to do so could even lead to death of both.

When you bring questions to your doctor, do not forget to talk about the risks, and early signs of appendicitis in pregnancy to prevent any unnecessary complications.

Check also article on appendicitis in children with a list of early signs and symptoms.

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