Chronic appendicitis

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 31 Aug 2021

Chronic appendicitis (rare plural: appendicitides) is defined by inflammation of the appendix over time with symptoms lasting for more than three weeks duration (cf. acute appendicitis1. The condition should be differentiated from recurrent appendicitis, in which one or more episodes of flares of symptoms last 24 to 48 hours and subside on their own. Chronic appendicitis is a controversial entity in diagnosis and management for most clinicians.

Chronic appendicitis is thought to be a rare cause of appendicitis. Because the existence of the entity itself is controversial, the true prevalence is unknown. Some authors propose that a small percentage of acute appendicitis cases are an acute presentation of chronic appendicitis 2,3.

Chronic appendicitis can be difficult to differentiate clinically from acute appendicitis. Even though the history is longer and less severe in the former, the presentation can be either as an acute severe episode mimicking the latter or atypical symptoms making the diagnosis more difficult 4

Even though not considered a surgical emergency, the condition can have disastrous complications such as perforation and abscess formation 4

The condition can be due to partial but persistent obstruction of the appendiceal lumen or chronic inflammatory conditions, such as granulomatous appendicitis 4.

Radiological findings are similar to those of acute appendicitis and are deemed to be radiologically indistinguishable 5.

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