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Acute abdominal pain has a sudden onset and can persist for several hours or days. Intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, urinary colic, cholecystitis,…
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Acute Abdominal Pain al affiliation Acute Abdominal Pain In many emergency departments, acute abdominal pain is a major reason for consultation by both adults and children. Acute abdominal pain has a sudden onset and can persist for several hours or days. Intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, urinary colic, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, perforated peptic ulcer, diverticulitis, gastroenteritis, gastritis, non-surgical abdominal pain and gynecological disorders in women are some of the common causes of acute abdominal pain. The factors that determine the seriousness of acute abdominal pain are clinical history, physical examination and the results of the general laboratory tests (Manterola, Vial, Moraga, & Astudillo, 2011).
Symptoms of acute abdominal pain
The symptoms of acute abdominal pain are nausea and vomiting. Other indications include guarding which is the contraction of abdominal muscles and when pressure is applied to the abdomen. There would be rigidity of the abdominal muscles or rebound tenderness, an increase in severe pain and discomfort when pressure is being applied to the localized area of the abdomen. The patient also has increased white blood cell count. In older patients, presentation delays, coexistent of disease and social and physical barriers complicate acute abdominal pain presentation (Nabi, 2011).
Differential diagnostic methods of acute abdominal pain
There are several diagnostic methods in evaluation of acute abdominal pain. Laboratory tests are done on the blood and urine specimen. The ultrasound is used in the evaluation of abdominal spaces with sound waves while the Computer Tomography (CT) scan is an x-ray technique using a computer program to develop detailed images. The ultrasound and CT are reliable in detecting common diagnoses causing acute abdominal pain. However, the ultrasound misses more cases than CT scan that is more sensitive (van Randen, Lameris, van Es, van Heessewijk, van Ramshorst, Ten, Bouma, van Leeuwen, Bossuyt, Stoker, Boermeester, & OPTIMA Study Group, 2011). Multi-detector CT can be used in evaluating patients with acute abdominal pain. It is an extremely CT noninvasive method for acute abdominal pain diagnosis and management.
Plan of care for acute abdominal pain
In the plan of care for patients with acute abdominal pain, the nurse has a key role in the assessment, history taking and management. Assessment is done through physical examination and acquiring diagnostic data. A comprehensive assessment of pain including onset, location, characterization, duration, onset, frequency, quality, and intensity should be performed. Factors such as fear, fatigue and lack of information should be reduced to eliminate factors that may increase the patient’s experience of pain. Patients with severe pain should be treated as priority. The abdomen should be examined with respect to guarding and rigidity (Nabi, 2011).
Non-pharmacological methods could be utilized in pain reduction. Use of intravenous morphine could be used in reducing pain in children with acute abdominal pain without significantly affecting examination. Morphine does not affect the ability to identify children with surgical conditions. Early administration of analgesics in patients with acute abdominal pain can reduce pain as long as there are no contraindications (Manterola, et al., 2011).
In conclusion, nursing care plan that includes assessment and management of acute abdominal pain affects the clinical outcome. More accurate and timely diagnosis of acute abdominal pain can lead to a fast indication therefore reducing pain. A comprehensive history and examination are vital.
Manterola, C., Vial, M., Moraga, J., & Astudillo, P. (2011). Anaelgesia in patients with acute abdominal pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1). Retrieved from
Nabi, H. (2011). Acute abdominal pain. Rural Surgery , 259-266. Retrieved from
van Randen, A., Lameris, W., van Es, H. W., et al. (2011). A comparison of the accuracy of the ultrasound and computed Tomography in common diagnoses causing acute abdominal pain. European Radiology , 21(7), 1535-1545. Retrieved from Read More
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