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Appendicitis cases unusually high in borderland

Updated: Tuesday, September 10 2013, 10:15 PM MDT

By Genevieve Curtis

EL PASO- Texas: Cases of children with appendicitis are on the rise in the borderland. Doctors at EL Paso Children's hospital said they're seeing more cases than ever before.

"A day doesn't seem like it doesn't go by that we are not doing at least one appendectomy and there are days where there are multiple cases," said Pediatric Surgeon Dr. William Spurbeck.

Spurbeck said they're diagnosing and treating more cases of appendicitis and performing 200 to 300 surgeries a year.

In May they performed 19 appendectomies, 24 in June and 28 in July. Spurbeck said the number seems higher than other communities across the country, but so far there doesn't seem to be an explanation for the abnormality.

"I don't think there anything preventative anybody can do. I know the parents always ask me, is it the hot spicy food? But unfortunately, I don't think that's the answer," said Spurbeck.

While Spurbeck said they see cases in children ages one to 18, a majority of cases cluster around the adolescent ages, nine to 12. Symptoms vary but can include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

"It's one of the most common things we see but one of the most difficult to diagnosis," said Spurbeck.

But by using ultra sound technology radiologists like Dr. Chetan Moorthy are able to detect appendicitis earlier and easier than ever before without putting children at risk for radiation.

"What we are trying to do with the imaging is reduce the amount of times the child goes to the operating room and it's not appendicitis," said Moorthy.

Surgeons perform a majority of appendectomy's laparoscopically.

"Through tiny little key hole incisions usually through their belly buttons," said Spurbeck.

This means no scars.

El Paso Children's hospital also features special tools tailored to examine all children from infants on up.

"You can think of these devices as little cameras," said Moorthy, who demonstrated the different sizes of probes used on the children.

Rooms also come equipped with the extra bells and whistles, toys and distractions to help sooth fears and ease anxiety.

Appendicitis cases unusually high in borderland

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