Appendix — Friend or Foe?

When I started medical school, I was taught that the appendix was a useless little organ hanging off the start of the large intestine. Because of the sophistication of the modern world, the usefulness of the appendix had evolved out of existence. The theory at the time was that particulate matter from food or purely an infection blocked the appendix, causing appendicitis with a myriad of complications, including peritonitis and, rarely, death.

At one stage, it was a rule that you could not travel to the Antarctic unless you had your appendix removed.