Why Is a Ruptured Appendix Potentially Life-Threatening?

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According to HowStuffWorks, a ruptured appendix allows inflammatory fluids and bacteria to spread throughout the abdominal cavity. This sometimes leads to abscesses, or peritonitis, organ failure and death.

HowStuffWorks explains that appendicitis is the result of a blockage within the appendix. The obstruction is typically impacted fecal matter or a mass of otherwise normal cells. This barrier reduces blood flow and results in tissue death. If not removed, the appendix bursts about 72 hours after the barrier develops.

Appendectomies are the most common emergency abdominal surgery, HowStuffWorks notes. However, a burst appendix increases the possibility of surgical complications tenfold. Although laparoscopic surgery is commonly used in appendectomies, more invasive measures are sometimes needed when ruptures occur.