Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To help diagnose appendicitis, your doctor will likely take a history of your signs and symptoms and examine your abdomen.

Tests and procedures used to diagnose appendicitis include:

  • Physical exam to assess your pain. Your doctor may apply gentle pressure on the painful area. When the pressure is suddenly released, appendicitis pain will often feel worse, signaling that the adjacent peritoneum is inflamed.

    Your doctor also may look for abdominal rigidity and a tendency for you to stiffen your abdominal muscles in response to pressure over the inflamed appendix (guarding).

    Your doctor may use a lubricated, gloved finger to examine your lower rectum (digital rectal exam). Women of childbearing age may be given a pelvic exam to check for possible gynecological problems that could be causing the pain.

  • Blood test. This allows your doctor to check for a high white blood cell count, which may indicate an infection.
  • Urine test. Your doctor may want you to have a urinalysis to make sure that a urinary tract infection or a kidney stone isn't causing your pain.
  • Imaging tests. Your doctor may also recommend an abdominal X-ray, an abdominal ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan to help confirm appendicitis or find other causes for your pain.
Aug. 20, 2014

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