Non-surgical causes of abdominal pain
Most presentations of abdominal pain do not have a surgical cause, Matthew Stephenson reminds us
Abdominal pain often arises from surgical pathology, and clinicians tend to consider these conditions high in their differential diagnosis. By far the most cases of abdominal pain, however, do not have a surgical cause. Even the acute abdomen, defined as severe abdominal pain, usually of sudden onset, likely to require surgical intervention to treat its cause, may have a non-surgical cause. And when this is forgotten unnecessary operations take place, putting the patient at risk.
Most undergraduate textbooks focus on surgical causes of abdominal pain. This article is a reminder of the myriad of medical causes of abdominal pain, from the mild to severe.
I discuss some of the medical conditions for which a well recognised part of their presentation includes abdominal pain. Some are obvious and everyday, but even the prevalence of some of the less considered conditions may be greater than you think.
You may find the mnemonic