Abdominal pain overview

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Abdominal pain Microchapters


Patient Information





Diffuse Abdominal Pain
Left Upper Quadrant
Left Flank
Left Lower Quadrant
Epigastric Quadrant
Umbilical Region
Pelvic Region
Right Upper Quadrant
Right Flank
Right Lower Quadrant

Differentiating Abdominal pain from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings


X Ray


Other Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies


Medical Therapy


Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Cost-Effectiveness of Therapy

Future or Investigational Therapies

Case Studies

Case #1

Abdominal pain On the Web

Most recent articles

Most cited articles

Review articles

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Powerpoint slides

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American Roentgen Ray Society Images of Abdominal pain

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Echo & Ultrasound
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Ongoing Trials at Clinical Trials.gov

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse

NICE Guidance

FDA on Abdominal pain

CDC on Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain in the news

Blogs on Abdominal pain

Directions to Hospitals Treating Abdominal pain

Risk calculators and risk factors for Abdominal pain

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Abdominal pain can be one of the symptoms associated with many transient disorders or serious diseases. Making a definitive diagnosis of the cause of abdominal pain can be difficult because many diseases present with this symptom, abdominal pain is a common problem. Most frequently the cause of the pain is benign and/or self-limited, but in cases of serious causes urgent intervention may be required.


Abdominal pain can be classified into three categories: acute abdomen, recurrent, and chronic functional. Abdominal pain is traditionally described by its chronicity (acute or chronic), progression over time, nature (sharp, dull, colicky), characterization of the factors that worsen or alleviate pain, and distribution of the pain.


The causes of abdominal pain vary with the distribution of the pain. The distribution can be determined by various methods, such as abdominal quadrants. Other methods exist that divide the abdomen into nine sections.

Differentiating Abdominal pain from other Diseases

Chronic functional abdominal pain is quite similar to, but less common than, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and many of the same treatments for IBS can also be of benefit to those with CFAP. The fundamental difference between IBS and CFAP is that in CFAP, unlike in IBS, there is no change in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea. Bowel dysfunction is a necessary diagnostic criteria of IBS.


Physical Examination

When a physician assesses a patient to determine the etiology and subsequent treatment for abdominal pain, the patient's history of the presenting complaint and their physical examination should derive a diagnosis in over 90% of cases. It is important also for a physician to remember that abdominal pain can be caused by problems outside the abdomen, especially heart attacks and pneumonias which can occasionally present as abdominal pain.


An electrocardiograph is needed to rule out a heart attack, which can occasionally present as abdominal pain.

X Ray

Imaging including an erect chest X-ray and plain films of the abdomen can aid in the diagnosis of the disorder causing the abdominal pain.



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