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Appendicitis Diagnosis

When diagnosing appendicitis, a doctor looks at the patient's symptoms, gathers a medical history, performs a physical exam, and orders test results. These tests can include x-rays, ultrasounds, or CT scans. In some cases, a laparoscopy (where the doctor uses a specialized camera to view the inside of the abdomen) may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

The Role of the Medical History in an Appendicitis Diagnosis

A history of a patient's symptoms is often the key to making an appendicitis diagnosis. When gathering your medical history, your doctor will likely ask about the nature, timing, location, pattern, and severity of the pain and other possible appendicitis symptoms. It is important to tell your doctor about:
  • The medications you take
  • Any previous medical conditions and surgeries
  • Any allergies you have 
  • Any previous family history of medical conditions and surgeries
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, and any other drugs.

The Role of the Physical Exam

Before the physical examination, a nurse or doctor will usually measure vital signs, which include:

Laboratory Tests Used to Make an Appendicitis Diagnosis

Doctors may use blood tests to check for signs of infection (for example, a high white blood cell count). Blood tests may also show dehydration or fluid and electrolyte disorders. Other laboratory tests that are used to diagnose appendicitis (by ruling out other conditions) include a urinalysis and a pregnancy test.

Information on Appendicitis

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