Why Does The Appendix Burst and What is the Appendix Anyway?

Hey, what’s up you guys? My name is Buck Parker. I am a board-certified general surgeon.

In this video, we’re gonna talk about when the appendix bursts or perforates or breaks open or whatever you wanna call it. So why does the appendix burst? Well, first, let’s talk about what the appendix is. I know I have a lot of other videos about the appendix. But if you’re not really quite clear, the appendix is a blind ending pouch, or a tubular structure. It’s almost like a test tube. It’s got one end is open, and then one end is closed. The one end that is open is open to the colon. The colon is also called the large bowel. Now it really doesn’t have a function, we don’t think, in adulthood. But it can get blocked, and so if you imagine if you stop off that test tube, okay? And then maybe before you stopped it off, you put some Coke and – what are those – Pop Rocks? You put the Coke and the Pop Rocks in the test tube, and then you put the cap on it, right? What’s gonna happen? That test tube is probably gonna explode at some point, and that’s the same thing that happens with the appendix.

Why does the appendix burst? Because, generally, in appendicitis, the one end that’s open gets blocked. And it gets blocked by food or what we call fecal lifts or a stone in the colon.

When does the appendix burst? That generally takes a little while. This typically happens in kids or older adults, and because each of those ends, they can’t really tell us, or they’re not very communicative to us as adults, right? If you have a kid, sometimes if they’re two, they can’t speak very well. Or they can’t show you or tell you what exactly is going on with their belly. They just hurt. If you’re a 15-year-old, you’re like, “My belly hurts, and it’s right there.” So we go into the hospital, or see the doctor a little faster because the parent’s like, “Oh my God, I think that’s appendicitis.” But as a kid or an adult, if the older adults, honestly, they just don’t feel as much. Things wear out when you get older and so does the pain perception, and so older adults just don’t have that pain. They just think, “Well, I have a little belly ache. It’s not that bad. Don’t worry about it. I’m gonna wait on it.”

Typically, it takes more than about 72 hours for the appendix to burst once you get appendicitis. So if you start having belly pain, when that belly pain starts, two, when it bursts, it’s gonna be more than 72 hours. Now that’s an approximation. It’s really not a hard and fast rule. It could be five days, it could be seven days. Everybody’s a little bit different, but that’s generally what I use as a guideline, let’s put it that way.

What happens when the appendix bursts? Now this is really actually very dangerous, so the appendix has stool in it. And if it bursts, then that stool and bacteria gets out into the rest of the abdomen. And what happens in the abdomen is the lining of the abdomen really is very active in pulling water and stuff out of the abdomen, okay? And what it does is it pulls it into the blood, so if you have bacteria and stool in the abdomen, that lining is gonna pull it out into the blood. And you’re gonna get bacteria in the blood and bacteria in the blood, you’ll get super sick. That’s called sepsis, so we have this whole cydacine mediated response. And it’s just like when you smash your thumb. It swells up. Well, that’s what happens in the bloodstream, but if it goes systemic, we’ll be talking about the entire body. Then the entire body blows up, okay? Or swells up is what we say, and you can get really, really sick from that.

That’s why everybody talks about, “Is the appendix burst yet?” Or “Did it burst?” Or “What’s going on?”

You don’t want it to burst because if it does, your risk for bacteria in the blood and sepsis – and some people even die from that. And in fact, I believe Houdini…I think the story is that Houdini died from appendicitis because they thought it was something else.

That’s pretty much the spiel on when the appendix bursts and how it bursts and why we’re concerned about it, so if you like this video and you like my other videos, you should go ahead and subscribe to my channels because I’ll send you more. And if you can share this with a friend or like the video, that would be awesome too. And I’ll see you in the next one. Take care.

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