What Are the "Rules of the Road" When Approaching Patients with Acute Abdominal Pain? What Are Common Diagnostic Errors and Who Are High-Risk Patients?
Kelle Goranson, Samuel D. Luber
The presenting complaint of acute abdominal pain suggests disease processes that range from benign to potentially life threatening. An organized approach that elicits a thorough history and physical exam can help the clinician generate a comprehensive differential diagnosis. Evaluation of the location, quality, and progression of symptoms should be used in conjunction with exam findings to develop an appropriate management plan. The clinician should be mindful of potential diagnostic errors and ways to avoid them. When evaluating elderly patients with acute abdominal pain, special consideration is warranted as they may present atypically and harbor acute surgical pathology.