There’s no single appendicitis test. Typically, healthcare providers use multiple exams to diagnose appendicitis. Tests may include a physical exam, lab work, and a CT scan or ultrasound of the stomach.
Healthcare providers use a combination of tests to confirm whether you have appendicitis, an infection or inflammation of the appendix. The purpose of appendicitis tests is to provide a prompt diagnosis for appendicitis, so you receive the care you need.
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Your healthcare provider may perform or order these appendicitis tests:
The appendix is a 2- to 4-inch, tube-shaped, organ that is attached to the large intestine (colon) and is located on the lower aspect of the abdominal cavity. Appendicitis is when the appendix becomes infected or inflamed. If you have appendicitis, you’ll most likely have an appendectomy, or surgery to remove your appendix. You can live a long, healthy life without your appendix.
The first sign is typically a dull pain around your belly button. That pain then travels down to the lower right side of your abdomen and becomes more intense and sharp.
Pain might also:
Additional early warning signs include:
An inflamed appendix can burst and spread bacteria throughout your body. This can trigger a serious, potentially life-threatening infection (peritonitis). Recognize the early signs of appendicitis so you can get the right diagnosis and treatment.
Different healthcare providers perform different tests to rule out appendicitis. For example, a:
Aside from paying attention to your symptoms, you can check to see if you experience sharp abdominal pain when you:
If you still feel persistent and worsening pain, or if you’re unsure, contact your provider. Appendicitis can become a serious condition that can cause severe complications if it’s not promptly treated.
You don’t need to prepare for a physical exam, blood test or urine test. For an imaging scan, you might need to stop eating or drinking a few hours beforehand. Your provider will let you know the details before your test.
During a physical exam, a healthcare provider may check whether you experience pain when:
During a blood test, a healthcare provider:
During a CT scan, you might:
During an ultrasound, a healthcare provider:
There are no risks or side effects associated with appendicitis tests.
A blood test with a high white blood cell count means you have an infection. But about a third of people with appendicitis have a normal white blood cell count. High levels of c-reactive protein in your blood may mean you have inflammation in your body and possibly appendicitis.
A urine sample with white blood cells and bacteria typically means you have a urinary tract infection. A urine test can also suggest kidney stones if your sample has certain minerals that make up kidney stones, or blood is seen in your urine.
If you have appendicitis, a CT scan or ultrasound may show:
The timing of your results can vary with each test. For example, it can take about an hour or two to receive the results of an ultrasound or CT scan.
Because appendicitis is considered an emergency, you should get immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An appendicitis test is a series of tests that diagnose appendicitis. Tests typically include a physical exam, blood and urine tests and an imaging test, such as a CT scan or ultrasound. Healthcare providers consider appendicitis to be a medical emergency because your appendix can burst and cause life-threatening complications. If you have constant pain in your abdomen, seek emergency care.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/13/2022.
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