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Acute Abdomen – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Complications and Treatment

Wednesday, June 13th 2012. | Digestive System

What is Acute Abdomen

The acute abdominal pain is characterized by sudden, intense and persistent in the abdomen or lower abdomen. The patient’s general condition is bad. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.

Acute Abdomen Causes

Different diseases can cause acute abdomen :

  • Inflammation of various abdominal organs: pancreas, gallbladder, cecum, large intestine, stomach, uterus, ovaries
  • Perforated ulcers (stomach, intestine) and inflamed organs (bile or cecum)
  • Obstruction of hollow organs like the intestines, bile ducts or gallbladder, including gallstones
  • Occlusions of intestines
  • Vascular occlusion or rupture
  • Following trauma to the level of abdominal organs accompanied by abdominal haemorrhage
  • Abdominal pregnancy
  • Poisoning

Other diseases of organs outside the abdominal cavity such as myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, trauma of the spine, kidney stones and urinary retention in renal failure can also cause acute abdomen.

Troubles (symptoms) of Acute Abdomen

In case of acute abdomen, immediate medical treatment is essential.

  • Persistent severe abdominal pain and sudden onset
  • Hard abdomen due to abdominal tension defense or contracture of the abdominal muscles
  • Disorders of bowel function (stool withholding)
  • Poor condition of the patient, who suffers
  • In case of internal bleeding, shock states resulting circulatory disturbances occur and may even go as far as loss of consciousness
  • Often nausea and vomiting
  • Eventually, fever

In case of suspicion of an acute abdomen, it is important not to self-medication with painkillers.


Examinations (diagnosis) of Acute Abdomen

  • History taking into account the patient’s symptoms.
  • Palpation of the abdomen, which is extremely hard to the touch.
  • Pain can be diffuse throughout the abdomen or localized.
  • Auscultation with a stethoscope (sounds and bowel movements)
  • Eventually, analysis of vomiting
  • Ultrasound
  • Abdominal and chest radiographs
  • Eventually, computed tomography, endoscopy intestinal

Treatment Options of Acute Abdomen

Conservative treatment (ie, d. Nonsurgical) is possible if :

  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Inflammation of the intestines
  • Inflammation of the gall bladder

In case of unstable blood circulation – shock with low blood pressure and rapid heartbeat – surgery should be performed urgently.

Possible Complications of Acute Abdomen

Complications can arise from some underlying disease :

  • Inflammation – Tissue Necrosis
  • Occlusions – perforation and spread of germs in the abdominal cavity, causing septicemia (infection of the abdominal cavity).
  • Pinch of bowel loops or vascular occlusions – tissue necrosis.
  • Trauma or vascular rupture – possibly, shock (low blood volume) can result in death.


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