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The Appendix

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167144.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 3:45 am Reply with quote

Question: What is your appendix used for?

Forfeit: It’s pointless

Answer: It helps your immune system

Lymphoid tissue (tissue which helps protect the body from bacteria and other foreign entities) begins to accumulate in the appendix shortly after you’re born and peaks at early adulthood. The appendix also assists in producing antibodies and white blood cells, and exposes these cells to a variety of antigens which stops potentially destructive antibody responses.

It used to be standard practice for your appendix to be removed during other abdominal surgery, but that is no longer the case because as well as possible help in the immune system, it also can act as a back-up in reconstructive surgery. It has been shown to be useful if a patient needs reconstruction of the bladder, as a sphincter muscle, and can be made into a replacement uterer (the organ which connects the bladder to the kidneys).

In anatomy “appendix” can refer to any section at the end of an organ. The organ we know colloquially as an “appendix” is actually a vermiform (meaning worm-like) appendix


167169.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:50 am Reply with quote

Brilliant! I can't believe there is anyone on earth who could avoid the forfeit on this one!

167186.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:26 am Reply with quote

My dad took me to watch an appendix operation when I was a kid.

It was wrong on all accounts.

167282.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:18 am Reply with quote

The other primates (and mammals) use it to digest cellulose. We don't eat grass any more, so it's become defunct on that particular front.

Quite interestingly, appendicitis is extremely rare among Africans.

Edward the VII's Coronation had to be postponed because of an appendicitis operation:

171697.  Thu May 03, 2007 3:21 am Reply with quote

Appendices are now being removed through the mouth. Apparently it's better because it doesn't leave a scar and patients don't have to take time to recover from incisions.

Transgastric surgery, or natural orifice translumenal endosurgery (NOTES), as it is officially known, involves passing flexible surgical tools and a camera in through the patient's mouth to reach the abdominal cavity via an incision made in the stomach lining. Once the operation is over, the surgeon draws any removed tissue back out through the patient's mouth and stitches up the hole in the stomach.

"Even with keyhole surgery, patients stay off work for several days," says Lee Swanstrom, director of the Oregon Clinic in Portland, US, which specialises in gastrointestinal and keyhole surgery. "With NOTES they could go back to work the same day."


171767.  Thu May 03, 2007 9:55 am Reply with quote

I wonder why they don't go for the appendix via the colon, which seems geographically nearer to an available exit.

I would have avoided the forfeit though - I remember reading about the possible uses of the appendix somewhere, possibly in a newspaper article. But I have a magpie mind.

171786.  Thu May 03, 2007 10:39 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I wonder why they don't go for the appendix via the colon, which seems geographically nearer to an available exit.

Perhaps it's just a matter of practicality. Before you shove anything up someone's colon (e.g. endoscopy) you have to make sure they have a bit of a clean out first. This involves the patient spending the day before experiencing the fun effects of purging laxatives.

If you go in through the mouth/stomach, I doubt you'd need the patient to do anything too out of the ordinary the day before apart from refrain from eating for 12 hours or so, which is pretty standard practice for most medical procedures involving general anaesthetic anyway.

171876.  Thu May 03, 2007 7:50 pm Reply with quote

I had a colonoscopy in January. Oh my, it was fun.

171896.  Fri May 04, 2007 3:53 am Reply with quote

You have my deepest sympathies. I've only experienced the fun by proxy when a close relative had one last year. She didn't enjoy the experience overly much.

171923.  Fri May 04, 2007 4:44 am Reply with quote

This involves the patient spending the day before experiencing the fun effects of purging laxatives.

What's even more fun is when the hospital sends you the little packet of powders, and doesn't tell you what they are because they assume you'll guess. That is more or less the living definition of fun.

171936.  Fri May 04, 2007 5:30 am Reply with quote

Blimey! That's a whole new level of cruel and unusual punishment.

When my relative received her powders, they came with detailed instructions on how to take them and precisely what they would do to you. Let's just say she made sure she had plenty of reading material in the bathroom that day.

172015.  Fri May 04, 2007 9:20 am Reply with quote

That's a rotten trick, Mat! I didn't get powders but a liquid which tasted really vile, and had to be drunk all at once with a large quantity of white grape juice or white cranberry juice. Moreover, there were two doses - one the day before and one the morning of the procedure. And they charged me a couple of thousand dollars for the privilege, which was not covered by my insurance because it was a 'preventive measure'. Nice.

172016.  Fri May 04, 2007 9:20 am Reply with quote

<innards talk kills thread>

172182.  Sat May 05, 2007 4:45 am Reply with quote

Oh well, at least I didn’t have to pay for it. And to be fair this was more than 20 years ago. And once I’d written to them pointing out their oversight, they did say “Blimey! Thanks for telling us, we’ll change that.” And, when I also pointed out that their short list of things you were allowed to eat in the 24 hours before the procedure didn’t include anything suitable for vegetarians, they changed that, too. So I’m not complaining.

I shan’t tell you about the back-to-front hospital gown and the pretty girls, though. Give me another 20 years to get over it.


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