Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, a small organ attached to the large intestine. It was believed that the appendix didn’t have any function, but this belief is changing. One theory is that appendix serves as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria. It may have a role in our immune system, as well. But since we can live without our appendix, it is often removed if it becomes infected. The surgical procedure is called an appendectomy.
Your appendix can become inflamed (irritated and swollen) for several reasons. It can be blocked by mucus, stool (bowel movement), or lymphatic tissue. This is part of the lymphatic system that helps fight infection. The normally harmless bacteria in the appendix then attack the appendix walls. This causes inflammation and infection. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites from your digestive tract can also cause an infection. If left untreated, the appendix wall can burst, causing the infection to spread in the abdomen, possibly resulting in sepsis or septic shock.
Sepsis may also occur as a complication of the surgery. If the surgical incision (wound) becomes infected, or an infection occurs in the abdomen, this can cause sepsis.
Sepsis, which was often called blood poisoning, is the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis and Appendicitis. 2023. https://www.sepsis.org/sepsisand/appendicitis/
Updated November 8, 2023.