Appendiceal colic in children: A true clinical entity?

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BACKGROUND: Unexplained recurrent abdominal pain is a frequent problem in the pediatric population. An organic cause is found in 10 percent of children. Recurrent abdominal pain is responsible for multiple hospital admissions and patient evaluations. In some children, partial luminal obstruction of the appendix without inflammation may be the cause of this pain, and is defined as 'appendiceal colic.' STUDY DESIGN: During a period of five years, we performed a prospective study among children admitted for fight lower quadrant abdominal pain. Children operated on for suspected acute appendicitis were eliminated from the study. Among the remaining patients, those with recurrent pain were evaluated for appendiceal colic. Medical histories were obtained, and the patients underwent physical examinations, routine laboratory studies, stool cultures, abdominal roentgenograms, and sonography scans (including the pelvic region in girls). Precise radiologic evaluation of the appendix was performed by barium swallow in 22 children or by barium enema in four. The diagnosis of appendiceal colic was made if the following three criteria were met: a history of longer than one month with three or more recurrent attacks of fight lower quadrant abdominal pain; localized tenderness in the fight lower abdomen without signs of peritoneal irritation or inflammation; or radiologic findings at barium examination consisting of irregular filling of the appendix, nonfilling or partial filling of the appendix after 24 hours, or nonemptying of the appendix after 72 hours. Children thus diagnosed underwent elective appendectomy, which was performed only after an additional episode of abdominal pain. RESULTS: Twenty-six children (average age 11.4 years) were treated by appendectomy and of these, 23 (88.5 percent) experienced pain relief in the immediate postoperative period. The remaining three children had pain relief within four months after appendectomy. CONCLUSIONS: Appendiceal colic may be a true clinical entity. Children suffering from appendiceal colic may benefit from elective appendectomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-250
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


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