Girl's 'Appendicitis' Turns Out to Be Worms

Doctors got quite the surprise during her appendectomy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2016 3:00 PM CDT

A teenager in the UK who showed up at a hospital's pediatric unit complaining of stomach pain ended up getting an appendectomy—but it was something else entirely that had caused her distress, per an article in BMJ Case Reports. Doctors weren't 100% sure that the 15-year-old had appendicitis, though some of the signs (including abdominal pain on her lower right side and nausea) were definitely present. They ruled out irritable bowel syndrome, ovarian cysts, a UTI, and even a particularly painful period. She wasn't throwing up, however (another sign of appendicitis), and blood, urine, and ultrasound tests weren't giving them a definite yes. But they decided to pull her appendix out anyway, as her pain wasn't going away and they didn't want to take any chances that it was indeed a life-threatening bout with appendicitis, a BMJ press release explains.

As they were in the process of taking out her organ, they noticed that her appendix was "lily white" instead of pink or red, per the Daily Mail. Then something unexpected caught their eye: a "multitude of worms," which they quickly removed with a suction tool. Tests after the surgery confirmed the worms were of the E. vermicularis (aka human pinworm) variety and that the girl hadn't had appendicitis after all. The teen and her entire family were given meds to fight the parasite—which is highly contagious, though not harmful—and she made a full recovery. It may have shocked her doctors, but BMJ notes that while the presence of the pinworms is usually found in people who live in hot, humid climates with subpar sanitation, up to half of all kids in Britain may have a related infection. (Meet the people who purposely ingest parasitic worms … for health reasons.)

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