You've seen it on an episode on TV. You've seen it in the movies. The main character gets a sharp pain in the lower right side of the belly. The doctor diagnoses it as appendicitis. Emergency surgery is performed.

What exactly is the appendix anyway? It is a small, finger-shaped pouch attached to the large intestine. It is located on the lower right side of the abdomen. It has no known job in the body. Some scientists believe that a long time ago it might have been a part of the digestive system. However, it has no such role now.

Problems arise because the appendix can become infected and inflamed. What causes the inflammation? Usually, there's a blockage inside the appendix, often by waste material. When this occurs, tissue swells and the appendix becomes blocked. In addition, foreign bodies that might have been swallowed can block the appendix as well. The blockage leads to inflammation and pressure. The pressure becomes pain in the lower-right belly.

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