Research Spotlight: What causes appendicitis?

Human anatomy showing location of appendixWhat triggers appendicitis, and why is it more common in certain years and in the summer? SMU researchers have published evidence that a flu-like virus is to blame.

Dedman College Professors Tom Fomby, Economics, and Wayne Woodward, Statistical Science, reviewed 36 years’ worth of hospital data on cases of appendicitis, influenza and gastric viral infections. They discovered that appendicitis admissions peaked in the years 1977, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1994 and 1998.

The clustering pattern suggests that appendicitis outbreaks are typical of viral infections. The data also showed a slight increase in the number of appendicitis cases during the summer months.

Fomby and Woodward described their findings in “Association of Viral Infection and Appendicitis,” published in the January issue of the journal Archives of Surgery. Since then, it has been the subject of articles in several media outlets, including The Daily Mail Online, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Science Daily and many others.

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About Kathleen Tibbetts

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