Diagnosing & Treating Appendicitis

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The specialists at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders alleviate the pain and complications of appendicitis with world-renowned facilities and care from specialists with decades of experience. 


The aching or pain you’re feeling in the lower right side of your abdomen could be appendicitis. In most cases, the pain starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen. As inflammation worsens, appendicitis pain typically increases and eventually becomes severe, often resulting in emergency care.


Because appendicitis is a condition with multiple causes — such as gastrointestinal (GI) tract infection or difficulty passing gas due to bowel obstruction — prevention is challenging, and early symptoms can be misleading. 


An accurate diagnosis and treatment plan from our nationally and internationally known gastroenterologists at the Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders is the fastest course to eliminate your pain. Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. 

Minimally Invasive Surgical Care

Our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive treatment. We provide acute care surgery involving the stomach and digestive area, including a wide range of laparoscopic procedures. Our expertise and treatment methods allow for better patient outcomes, such as smaller incisions, less pain and faster recovery.  

Diagnosing Appendicitis

The specialists at the Underwood Center will evaluate your symptoms and examine the site of pain. Diagnosis may involve blood tests, urinalysis and imaging tests.


It’s helpful to know the following to share with your doctor:

  • When did your abdominal pain start?
  • Where exactly are you feeling pain?
  • How severe is your pain?
  • Have you noticed other symptoms besides pain?
  • Have you had any other medical conditions or surgical procedures?

Appendicitis Symptoms & Treatment

How is appendicitis treated?

Standard treatment of appendicitis is an appendectomy, the surgical removal of the appendix. An appendectomy can be minimally invasive, through laparoscopy. However, if your appendix has ruptured, you will likely need an open appendectomy. 

What are the signs and symptoms of appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. Although anyone can develop appendicitis, most often it occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30.


Please note, severe abdominal pain requires immediate medical attention.


Signs and symptoms of appendicitis may include:

  • Sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen
  • Sudden pain that begins around your navel and often shifts to your lower right abdomen
  • Pain that worsens if you cough, walk or make other jarring movements
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever that may worsen as the illness progresses
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Flatulence


The site of your pain may vary, depending on your age and the position of your appendix. When you're pregnant, the pain may seem to come from your upper abdomen because your appendix is higher during pregnancy. Make an appointment with a doctor if you or your child has any of these signs or symptoms.

What if I am looking for advanced care or a second opinion?

We understand the concerns that come with the diagnosis of appendicitis. Whether you are looking for a diagnosis or a second opinion, we’re here to help. The center’s compassionate team of gastroenterologists will diagnose your condition and design a personalized treatment plan that works for you and your family.

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