This site is intended for health professionals only

Flu virus "may cause appendicitis"

A US study into appendicitis has found that the condition may be caused by a flu-like virus and is more likely to occur during the summer months.

The exact cause of the condition has long been a mystery to doctors; however, new research published in the journal Archives of Surgery from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, found that cases of appendicitis peaked during years which also saw a high number of hospital admissions for influenza and gastric viral infections.

The study examined data from hospital screenings over a 36-year period and found that cases of appendicitis and viral infections "clustered" to indicate a possible link between the two, while a slight increase was also reported in the number of cases being treated during summer months.

The findings shed new light on the treatment options for the condition, with many now believing that surgery could be avoided entirely.

Study leader Dr Edward Livingston, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, said: "The peaks and valleys of appendicitis cases generally matched up over time, suggesting it is possible that these disorders share common etiologic (causative) determinates, pathogenetic (disease-related) mechanisms or environmental factors that similarly affect their incidence."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Archives of Surgery