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What Side is Your Appendix on?

The human body has lots of big and small organs. Each of these organs has been developed to perform various big or small functions. One such organ in the human body is the appendix. The appendix is a small pouch of tissues that is located at the end of the large intestine.


An appendix is a worm-like or vermiform structure that is located at the end of the cecum. The cecum is a part of the large intestine. The structure of appendix is just like any other organ in the digestive tract of a human body. It is made up of the mucosa, submucosa, muscularis and a serosal layer. The only difference between the appendix and the large intestine is that there is a mass of lymphoid tissues present in the submucosal layer of the appendix. The appendix is said to be a vestigial organ. A vestigial organ is an organ in the human body that was functional in the past but is now useless for the survival.

What side is the appendix situated?

Location of Appendix

The appendix is situated at the lower right part of the abdominal cavity. It is attached to the colon at the McBurney’s point. A normal appendix measures between 2cm to 20 cm depending on person to person. The exact location of the appendix is at the point where the small intestine ends and the large intestine starts. The bottom part of the appendix is located at one point in most of the individuals; however, the top might be present in different locations. These locations include:

  • Pelvic – The pelvic position is the most common in most of the people and this means that the appendix falls downwards towards the pelvis of the person.
  • Postileal – The post-ileal position is when the appendix is just directed towards the spleen and is situated above the ileum.
  • Subcecal – The subcecal appendix is present just below the cecum, this is the smallest size of the appendix.
  • Retrocecal – The retrocecal appendix is located is located just behind the cecum but above it. In most cases it reaches up to the colon.
  • Ectopic – The ectopic type of appendix is the one that cannot be categorized under any of these types.
  • Preileal – This position of the appendix is situated in the front of the ileum and slightly above it.

The Variations in the location of the appendix

Since not all people are similar, there are a few cases when there is some variation in the formation and the location of the appendix. These variations are:

  • Mirror Twins – In the case of mirror twins, the appendix is located in the bottom left corner of one child. This is because both the children are the mirror image of each other.
  • Malrotation – The rotation of the intestine causes the colon part to shift to the left-hand side of the body. This results in the shifting of the appendix at the bottom left corner of the abdominal cavity.
  • Absence of Appendix – Some people are born without an appendix. Since appendix is not necessary for performing important functions in the body, this does not affect them at all in their lives.
  • Presence of Gerlach’s valve – In some cases, there is a mucosal valve at the tip or the opening of the appendix which is known as the Gerlach’s Valve.

The use of appendix in the body

The appendix is not a major organ in the human body and is not responsible for performing any big and important functions. Additionally, there is not a lot of information available in the appendix. The appendix has always been considered a vestigial organ that was once used to digest cellulose and has not lost its function in the human body. However, researchers have found out that there are a few functions that the appendix has. They are:

  • The Immunological Function – Many researchers have proved that the appendix helps in a lot of immunological functions of the body. It helps a person develop a stronger and much healthier immune system. The maturation of the B lymphocytes takes place in the appendix. Additionally, the antibodies are also produced with the help of appendix. This is not enough; the appendix also helps in the transportation of the lymphocytes to the various parts of the body at times of an attack by the foreign organisms.
  • The Maintenance of Gut Flora – Another major function of the appendix is to maintain the good bacteria in the intestine. There are some good bacterias that live in the small and large intestine and aids the digestion of food. The appendix acts as a reserve or a storehouse of these bacteria. There are times when the good bacterias get washed off from the intestine; the appendix supplies them in order to fill in the place of the missing bacterias.

Appendicitis and its treatment

There are times when the appendix gets inflamed due to various causes such as infections and much more. This leads to the condition called Appendicitis. Appendicitis is very common and a lot of people suffer from it.

Symptoms

The symptoms of appendicitis are; pain in the lower abdomen that keeps on increasing with the passing time, fever, fatigue, irregular bowels, inflammation and frequent urination. Most people can continue with their day to day activities even if they are suffering from appendicitis, however, in some cases, the appendix might burst due to excessive inflammation and swelling. This is a huge issue and can cause extreme discomfort to the person. The person will have severe pain on whatever side the appendix is located and they might even vomit and faint. Immediate assistance is required in situations like this.

Treatment

There is only one treatment for appendicitis, surgery. The appendix does not have an important function in the body and most doctors and scientists believe that its removal does not cause any harm to the normal functioning of the body. The doctors would run a few tests before the surgery in order to see what side the appendix is located on. Additionally, the pain caused due to appendicitis can be confused with the normal stomach pain in the beginning. So, any pain in the abdomen that continues for more than a couple of days should be checked in with the doctor.

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