Appendicitis `caused by viral infection`
London: Doctors have for long baffled by
what triggers appendicitis. Now, a new study has claimed that
the condition may be caused by a flu-like virus and it may not
require an emergency surgery.
An international team believes that a link to viral
infection could explain why appendicitis appears to be more
common in certain years and during the summer, but it has not
been able to identify the mystery virus.
Appendicitis affects about one in 10 people during
their lifetime and is the most common reason for emergency
surgery. It occurs when the appendix, a worm-like cul-de-sac
attached to the large intestine, becomes inflamed.
In their study, scientists examined American hospital
admissions for appendicitis, influenza and gastric viral
infections over 36 years.
Their analysis showed appendicitis peaked in the years
1977, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1994 and 1998. That clustering pattern
suggested outbreaks were typical of viral infections. Seasonal
trends were also uncovered showing a bit increase in number of
appendicitis cases over the summer months.
"The peaks and valleys of appendicitis cases generally
matched up over time suggesting it`s possible these disorders
share common etiologic (causative) determinates, pathogenetic
(disease-related) mechanisms or environmental factors that
similarly affect their incidence.
"Though appendicitis is fairly common it still remains
a frustrating medical mystery," the British media quoted team
leader Edward Livingston of Texas University as saying.
In fact, in their study, the scientists looked at
cases of sailors at sea without access to medical facilities
and children who could not safely have surgery. And, in many
instances, their nonperforated appendicitis resolved itself.
"Just as the traditional appendix scar across the
abdomen is fast becoming history, thanks to new single-
incision surgery techniques, so too may the conventional
wisdom that patients with appendicitis need to be operated on
as soon as they enter the hospital.
"Patients still need to be seen quickly by physician,
but emergency surgery is now in question," Dr Livingston wrote
in the latest edition of the `Archives of Surgery` journal.
First Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2010, 00:00
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