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Appendicitis in pregnancy: what risks exist

It can occur during pregnancy, labor or even after giving birth. Appendicitis in pregnancy is a condition that can also occur at any time in a woman’s life, both in pregnant and non-pregnant women.

In fact, among the medical community it is said that appendicitis is the most frequent complication during pregnancy . In fact, identifying the condition will depend on the experience of the specialist, the suspected diagnosis, as well as the evolution times of the clinical picture.

However, if appendicitis is not identified early, it can be aggravated during pregnancy, and the risk increases depending on the weeks of pregnancy . In addition, it not only affects the mother, but threatens the well-being of the fetus.

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix , which is located in the area where the large

This in turn causes a rapid stretching of the tissues due to tension; As a result, nerve fibers are stimulated and cause diffuse pain.

Also, as the distension progresses, a perforation could occur in the area. The perforation in the appendix is ​​the most important factor in relation to fetal and maternal death, which increases the risk of appendicitis during pregnancy.

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Classical symptoms of appendicitis

Appendicitis in pregnancy: what risks exist

The symptoms of appendicitis in pregnancy are similar to those of a non-pregnant woman. However, due to normal changes in pregnancy, such symptoms may vary a bit and may even be confusing to doctors :

  • Pain in the right iliac fossa (lower right quadrant)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Leukocytosis
  • Spasm
  • Rigidity, pain and abdominal hypersensitivity
  • Fever
  • Tachycardia
  • Constipation. Occasionally diarrheas may appear


The treatment of appendicitis in pregnancy should be surgical and urgent, regardless of gestational age. However, there are very particular challenges for the surgeon due to the normal changes that pregnancy brings.

During pregnancy, the woman undergoes certain anatomical changes with respect to the position of some organs, including the appendix. In these cases, it is said that there is displacement of the internal organs . Also, there are other important modifications (for example, the uterus increases in size and abdominal palpation is difficult).

The aforementioned changes affect the diagnosis . There are certain points of hypersensitivity, such as , that change during pregnancy, making it difficult to correctly identify acute appendicitis.

In addition, there are other physiological changes that affect the interpretation of laboratory studies and physical examination. Highlights anemia, decreased heart rate or leukocytosis, among other conditions

If the diagnosis is not made in time, it can lead to health complications such as the following:

  • Localized abscess
  • Diffuse peritonitis
  • Pileflebitis
  • Abortion
  • Preterm delivery
  • Fetal death
  • Maternal death
  • Generalized sepsis
  • Urinary infection
  • Differential diagnosis

Appendicitis: a difficult diagnosis

Appendicitis in pregnancy: what risks exist

In addition to the risks of appendicitis in pregnancy and its complications, the difficult diagnosis is added. Specialists usually perform alternative studies that allow them to rule out . This procedure is called a differential diagnosis.

Among said group of ailments are urinary infections, stasis, twisted ovarian cysts, postural pain, early symptoms of abortion or

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The risks of appendicitis in pregnancy

The risk of appendicitis in pregnancy depends directly on the early diagnosis and removal of the diseased appendix . If treated on time, the complications and risks decrease considerably.

Appendicitis in pregnancy is serious for the mother. However, the prognosis is much riskier for the fetus . Due to the perforation of the appendix, the baby may die hours later or die before his birth.

The statistics regarding the risk of appendicitis in pregnancy vary according to several investigations. The percentage of premature births and abortions reaches 8.3% and 2.6% of the population studied . On the other hand, some other authors defined almost zero maternal mortality compared to a variable percentage between 0 and 11% for the fetus.


In summary, the risk of appendicitis in pregnancy worsens depending on the pregnancy status of the pregnant woman that can result in fetal complications and

For that reason, early diagnosis allows the woman and her baby to be treated in a timely manner with a minimum of complications and risks.

Appendicitis in pregnancy: what risks exist