For years, the appendix was credited with very little function. But now there is adequate evidence that the appendix serves an important role in the fetus and in young adults. Specific cells which appear in the appendix of the human fetus at around the 11th week of the developmental stage have been shown to produce various essential compounds that control biological mechanisms in the developing baby. Among adult humans also, the appendix is now thought to be involved in some immune functions.
Appendicitis is the inflammation and swelling of the appendix, a small tube like structure protruding from the large intestine. It occurs when the appendix gets blocked with stool or foreign particles passing through the intestine. Blockage may cause infection which results in painful swelling of the appendix. ‘If left alone, the appendix does not cause any problems,’ says Dr Kukreja.