Appendicitis is the most common reason for emergency general surgery. According to new research out of UT Southwestern Medical Center, it may be caused at times by a viral infection, and an emergency removal of the organ may not be a necessary course of treatment. From a release:
The researchers evaluated data over a 36-year period from the
National Hospital Discharge Survey and concluded in a paper appearing in the
January issue of Archives of Surgery that appendicitis may be caused by
undetermined viral infection or infections, said Dr. Edward Livingston,
chief of GI/endocrine surgery at UT Southwestern and senior author of the
Statistical data revealed peaks, which may be outbreaks of appendicitis, in the years 1977, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1994 and 1998. In addition, researchers uncovered some seasonal trends for appendicitis, documenting a slight increase in appendicitis cases during the summer.
“The peaks and valleys of appendicitis cases generally matched up over time, suggesting it is possible that these disorders share common etiologic determinates, pathogenetic mechanisms or environmental factors that similarly affect their incidence,” Dr. Livingston said.
A review of hospital discharge data also found that appendicitis doesn’t
necessarily lead to a burst appendix if the organ is not removed quickly.
This, according to the release, runs counter to traditional thought on the
best course of action for the condition.