Case history #1
A 22-year-old male presents to the emergency room with abdominal pain, anorexia, nausea, and low-grade fever. Pain started in the mid-abdominal region 6 hours ago and is now in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. The pain is steady in nature and aggravated by coughing. Physical examination reveals a low-grade fever (100.5°F [38°C]), pain on palpation at right lower quadrant (McBurney sign), and leukocytosis (12,000/microliter) with 85% neutrophils.
Case history #2
A 12-year-old girl presents with sudden-onset severe generalized abdominal pain associated with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. On exam she appears ill and has a temperature of 104°F (40°C). Her abdomen is tense with generalized tenderness and guarding. No bowel sounds are present.
Atypical appendiceal anatomy, such as retrocecal or long appendix, may present with back, hip, or left-sided abdominal pain that is confused with an alternate intra-abdominal diagnosis. Older patients are less likely to have classical symptoms and may present with nonspecific abdominal pain without associated features, or confusion. The delay in presentation or diagnosis in this group results in increased risk of morbidity and mortality. The diagnosis of acute appendicitis during pregnancy is often delayed, as the location of the pain is affected by displacement of the appendix by the uterus, and symptoms such as nausea and vomiting are frequently associated with pregnancy itself.
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