Your appendix is a small finger-sized tube that is located near the area where your small and large intestines meet. The appendix is located in the lower right side of your abdomen.
Usually, when you hear about the appendix it is because someone is having it surgically removed. In the US, an estimated 300,000 appendectomies are performed each year.
What does Your Appendix do?
Despite being located along the GI tract and prominently between the small and large intestines, the appendix is believed to serve no real purpose.
Additionally, removing it seems to have no drawbacks.
Hypothesis have circulated for many years that the appendix could be a storage location for “good bacteria” but there has never been quite a large enough study completed to confirm this.
Why do Humans have an Appendix?
Since the appendix serves no real purpose, why do humans have an appendix at all? Researchers believe that in ancient times humans primarily ate plants. With this type of diet, the appendix may have played a crucial role in digestion.
Despite the change in human diets over thousands of years, the appendix has persisted to be a part of human anatomy. Wisdom teeth are a similar case – a part of the human body that no longer serves a substantial function and is frequently more of a nuisance than a benefit.
While 35% of people are now born without wisdom teeth, just 0.0001% of people are born without an appendix.
How does Appendicitis Occur?
Appendicitis is the result of an infection in your appendix that can be caused by a hard stool, parasite, or other object being lodged into your appendix to create a blockage. This results in the spread of bacteria that can eventually cause the appendix to burst.
A burst appendix poses considerable health concerns as it can quickly cause the infection to grow to other parts of the abdomen.
Should You Have Your Appendix Removed?
If you are experiencing any of the painful symptoms of appendicitis, you will likely need to have emergency surgery to remove your appendix.
The chance of having acute appendicitis is 8.6% for males and 6.9% for females.
Despite this, far more people have an appendectomy (the procedure to remove an appendix) with 12% of men and 23.1% of females having their appendix removed. This is because surgeons can frequently remove the appendix when symptoms start to arise, but before appendicitis has occurred.