This patient presented with gradual onset RIF pain, which was maximal in the right lower paracolic gutter, just above the iliac crest.
- This is a case of acute appendicitis where an appendicolith obstructs the lumen of the appendix causing distention and inflammation of the distal appendix.
- The appendix is typically described as a non-peristalsing, blind ending tube with bowel wall signature, originating from the caecum.
- It usually measures less than 6mm across but in this case where it is distended it measures 14mm across.
- It maintains the normal sonographically differentiable layers indicating no frank necrosis or perforation.
- An echogenic shadow casting faecolith obstructs the proximal appendix
- The base can also bee seen and has a more typical appearance of an inflamed appendix as it enters the caecum.
- There is no associated free fluid, nor particularly echogenic mesenteric fat.
- The appendix lies in highly variable locations.
- Ensure you explore throughout the right side of the abdomen in your search for the appendix, but particularly at the site of maximal pain.
- An appendicolith is often but not invariably seen in appendicitis.
- Steps in diagnosis are:
- Find the appendix – a grid search of the abdomen using a high frequency linear transducer
- Confirm it is the appendix
- Assess for features of appendicitis – distended to >6mm across, tender, appendicolith, surrounding free fluid, surrounding echogenic mesenteric fat, hyperaemia
- Assess for complications – perforation, abscess formation
- Assess for alternate causes of the pain