How Do You Know When Abdominal Pain Is Appendicitis?

Photograph of Dr. Katherine Fischkoff standing in her Columbia University white coat.

In November of 2023, "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert canceled his week of shows as he recovered from surgery due to a ruptured appendix. An appendix ruptures when appendicitis, or inflammation, goes untreated. It's easy to understand how this can happen when symptoms are similar to many other abdominal and gastrointestinal issues.

We talked to Chief of General Surgery, Katherine Fischkoff, MD, about how to interpret belly pain and when to call your doctor.


Key Info:

  • About 7% of Americans will get appendicitis in their lifetimes.
  • Laparoscopy is the surgical method of choice, which involves making small incisions in the abdomen to minimize scarring, pain, and improve recovery.
  • Appendicitis most commonly occurs in teens and young adults but can present at any age.

Learn more about appendicitis here.

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