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Diagnosing Appendicitis

Laboratory Tests Used to Diagnose Appendicitis

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

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests are also used for diagnosing appendicitis. 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), foreign bodies, and, in rare cases, an appendicolith, which is hardened stool in the appendix.
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:
  • Provide a series of cross-sectional images of the body
  • Identify abdominal conditions
  • Facilitate diagnosis when the clinical impression is in doubt.
It is important for women of childbearing age to have a pregnancy test before undergoing any testing with x-rays.


In selected cases, a laparoscopy may be necessary for making an appendicitis diagnosis. This procedure avoids radiation, but it does require general anesthesia. A laparoscope is a thin tube that has a camera attached to it. Doctors will insert the laparoscope into the body through a small cut, which allows the doctor to see the internal organs. Surgery can then be performed laparoscopically.

Appendicitis Attack

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