Abdominal pains subside for Anderson Appendicitis unlikely in outfielder's case


July 28, 1996|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,SUN STAFF

Brady Anderson said yesterday he was "fine, just fine" more than a week after feeling pains typical of appendicitis, but doctors who have treated hundreds of cases said his recent play and apparent good health probably mean he never really had the disorder.

If he had, his appendix would have ruptured by now and presented him with no choice but to have an emergency operation.

"I don't think it's reasonable to think that he will ever have appendicitis out of this episode," said Dr. Claudius Klimt, director of emergency medicine at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

"At this point, he's fine," said Dr. Robert Bailey, chairman of surgery at the Towson hospital and who, like Klimt, did not treat the center fielder. "Whatever he had is past. It could have been a viral intestinal flu. At this point, there's no need to do anything further unless there are recurrent symptoms."

Despite a growing consensus that Anderson is looking less and less like a man with appendicitis, doctors agreed that his initial signs were highly suspicious. Most physicians would have recommended an appendectomy to eliminate the risk of serious complications -- and most patients would have agreed.

The appendix is a short, narrow tube that branches off the intestines in the lower, right side of the abdomen. It has no known function, but each year a half-million people in the United States are forced to have theirs removed because of painful obstructions. If not promptly taken out, an inflamed appendix can rupture -- spilling bacteria and causing severe infection.

Anderson sought medical attention July 19 when the team was in Boston for a four-game series.

"He saw two equally competent surgeons in Boston," said Orioles team physician William Goldiner. "One thought he had it, and the other thought he probably didn't but could have had it."

Anderson had some but not all the symptoms of appendicitis, Goldiner said. While he had sharp pains, he didn't have a fever. An ultrasound test, which often provides clues, didn't present a clear case one way or the other.

"If I had been in Boston at the time he was sick, I would have been pushing for surgery," Goldiner said. But Anderson decided to watch and wait.

"He was making a choice neither you nor I would be willing to take, but I don't think anyone thought it was a prohibitive risk."

Luckily for Anderson, the symptoms subsided.

"There's nothing wrong with saying, 'We should watch this for 18 24 hours,' " said Bailey.

But if Anderson had truly had appendicitis, Bailey said, his symptoms would have gotten worse in a day or two. Then, the choice would have been simple.

Whereas a precautionary appendectomy would have required a day in the hospital and a week out of the lineup, surgery for a ruptured appendix is more complex, requiring several days in the hospital and several weeks recovering.

Yesterday, Anderson brushed off questions about his health, saying only that he felt fine.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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