Centre for Inflammation Research

Public Lecture: "Fat Lot of Good! Appendicitis & the Benefits of Specialised Fat Tissue."

January 2018: Prof Damien Mole and Dr Cecile Benezech gave a  public talk as part of the "Let’s talk about health" public lecture series run by the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine.

On 24th January 2018, Prof Damien Mole of the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, and Cecile Benezech of the British Heart Foundation and the Centre for Cardiovascular Science gave a public lecture at the Queen's Medical Research Institute, titled: "Fat Lot of Good! Appendicitis & the Benefits of Specialised Fat Tissue."

Appendicitis is the most common abdominal emergency needing surgery. One in 13 people will suffer from appendicitis at some point in their lives. During appendicitis, the appendix becomes inflamed and swells. The omentum, which is a large piece of abdominal fat tissue rich in immune system cells, detects this inflammation and wraps itself around the inflamed appendix. This can be very important because the omentum can seal off the area of inflammation.  

In cases where the appendix has burst, the omentum can stop the pus and leakage from spreading throughout the whole abdominal cavity, causing the severe complications of peritonitis and sepsis. Most appendicitis patients make a full recovery. However, there are other causes of peritonitis and in some very ill patients, this can be life threatening. Peritonitis is the second leading cause of Intensive Care Unit admission and remains a leading cause of death and morbidity in these patients. Perhaps we can apply lessons from appendicitis to these other conditions that result in peritonitis.

Memebers of the public came along to "chew the fat" and heard about recent research on inflammation and the omentum, how the omentum can be used by surgeons during surgery, what we are doing to understand its function, and how we are planning to use this in the future to help patients with peritonitis.


View a video transcript of the lecture here