Imaging Tests Used to Diagnose Appendicitis
Imaging tests are also used when making an appendicitis diagnosis. X-rays, ultrasounds, and computed tomography (CT) scans are used to produce images of the abdomen.
An x-ray can show signs of obstruction, perforation (a hole), and foreign bodies. In rare cases, an appendicolith, which is hardened stool in the appendix, may be found. An ultrasound may show appendiceal inflammation, gallbladder disease, and pregnancy.
However, the most common imaging test that is used to diagnose appendicitis is the CT scan, which can:
- Identify abdominal conditions
- Provide a series of cross-sectional images of the body
- Help in making a definite diagnosis when there is some doubt.
It is important for women of childbearing age to have a pregnancy test before undergoing any testing with x-rays.
How Surgery Is Used to Make an Appendicitis Diagnosis
In some cases, a laparoscopy may be necessary to make the diagnosis. A laparoscope is a thin tube that has a camera attached to it. The doctor will insert the laparoscope into the body through a small cut, which allows the doctor to see the internal organs. If needed, surgery can then be performed laparoscopically.
This procedure avoids radiation, but it does require general anesthesia.