Appendicitis: Providing Safe Care for Kids during COVID-19

Little boy at medical checkupBy Carolyn Comeau

A common pediatric condition that Michelle Kiser, MD, a pediatric surgeon at Mission Children’s Specialists, saw plummet recently is pediatric appendicitis. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed. According to Dr. Kiser, appendicitis is the most common disease that requires surgical treatment in children and adolescents, affecting up to 8 percent of this population.

She added that it’s critical for parents to know the signs and symptoms of the disease in children and to seek appropriate treatment early on. “When care is delayed, the appendix can rupture, dramatically increasing the length and complexity of the child’s hospital stay and associated interventions,” said Dr. Kiser.

Family-centered Care Is a Top Priority

Whatever the ultimate explanation for this ends up being, Dr. Kiser urged parents not to hesitate bringing their child to the hospital for care no matter what the problem, especially appendicitis. “At Mission Children’s Specialists, we treat over 200 patients each year for appendicitis and strive to be a pediatric center of excellence for these patients,” said Dr. Kiser. “We also provide western North Carolina’s only pediatric surgery, pediatric anesthesia and pediatric radiology services, and we’ve been developing a progressive management strategy to minimize radiation effects, hospitalization and cost.”

Dr. Kiser’s hope is that any family whose child has appendicitis symptoms will feel confident in seeking care at Mission Children’s Specialists and Mission Children’s Hospital. “We incorporate minimally invasive surgical techniques, co-management strategies with the pediatric hospitalists and utilization of our unique services, such as Child Life Specialists, to help children cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness and hospitalization.” This combination of advanced medical treatment and care that addresses a pediatric patient’s unique developmental needs highlights Mission Health’s commitment to family-centered care.

Patient Safety Paramount during COVID-19

Though the standards for care shift frequently as the medical community and the community-at-large grapple with COVID-19, Dr. Kiser emphasized that every safety precaution possible has been implemented at Mission Children’s Specialists. “We’re screening all patients, visitors and clinicians before they enter our facility, requiring universal masking, and caregivers of COVID-19 patients are never in contact with our pediatric patients,” she said. “Additionally, toys and other easily contaminated items have been removed from our waiting areas.”

Whether a pediatric patient needs treatment for appendicitis or another ailment, Mission Children’s Specialists providers are fully equipped to provide advanced, exceptional and always safe care.


Michelle Kiser, MD, is a pediatric surgeon at Mission Children’s Specialists.

To learn more about pediatric services at Mission Health, click here. [1]
To learn more information about Mission’s Child Life Program, click here. [2]