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Abdominal Pain 

Abdominal Pain
Abdominal Pain
Acute Care Casebook

Ali Kamran


Small bowel obstruction is an important diagnosis to consider in an adult presenting with abdominal pain with previous risk factors. Abdominal pain of unclear etiology in the Emergency Department has an exhaustive differential, but key historical and physical exam findings can help narrow the differential considerably. Key management steps for a bowel obstruction include obtaining an appropriate history and physical examination, ordering necessary laboratory studies to exclude other diagnoses, making the patient nil per os, addressing any serious electrolyte derangements, obtaining necessary imaging and a surgical consult. Multidetector computed tomography of the abdomen provides the highest sensitivity for the diagnosis of a small bowel obstruction, but an abdominal X-ray or an abdominal ultrasound can be utilized to help make the diagnosis.

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