What is the appendix for? What is appendicitis?

Posted on Jan 12, 2021      236

The appendix (worm-like appendix) is a tube about 8-15 cm long and about 1 cm in diameter, extending from the lower end of the cecum and closed on the other side. It is a “blind” tube that leads nowhere. The appendix is at the beginning of the colon, in the lower part of the abdominal cavity, on the right side.

Structure of the human colon

Many rodents, herbivores, some predators, monkeys, and humans have a worm-like appendix.

In humans, the worm-like process was considered a useless organ until recently. In the 1930s, they even introduced the practice of removing the appendix in all children. And it turned out that they did it in vain. Children who had their appendix removed for no reason fell behind their peers in physical and mental development. And people with “accidentally” removed appendixes more often than others suffer from many diseases. No one could figure out at the time why this happens.

Today we know that in the human body, the appendix does not take part in the digestive process, although it is in the intestines. The bacteria that live in it maintain a healthy microflora in the intestine. The appendix is like an incubator for these bacteria, a “safe home” for them.

The wall of the appendix contains lymphoid clusters, just like the tonsils in the throat. Therefore, it is often called the “intestinal tonsil”. The lymphoid clusters contain cells that perform important immune functions. The appendix takes an active part in all the body’s protective reactions.

Especially quickly this appendix reacts to inflammatory disorders in the cecum and the entire gastrointestinal tract. But it is this peculiarity that makes the wormy appendix a vulnerable place. If the lymphoid tissue has to work frequently and intensively, the walls of the appendix swell, the contents linger in it and an inflammatory process develops - appendicitis. At first the mucosa itself becomes infected, and then all layers of the appendix wall become infected. If appendicitis develops, the appendix has to be surgically removed. Delaying the operation threatens severe complications and even death.

It used to be believed that the appendix is inflamed because of ingestion of hard, indigestible particles, such as the husks of seeds, etc. This is a misconception! The opening of the appendix is too small to keep small food particles - only 1-2 mm.

Modern experts believe that the cause of acute appendicitis is the food cravings of modern man and allergies. Strange as it may seem, but appendicitis used to be a rarity - it is a relatively “young” disease.