Skip Navigation LinksHome > July/September 2014 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 > Abdominal Pain: An Approach to a Challenging Diagnosis
AACN Advanced Critical Care:
doi: 10.1097/NCI.0000000000000042
Differential Diagnoses for Select Critical Care Symptoms

Abdominal Pain: An Approach to a Challenging Diagnosis

Brown, Helen F. MS, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC; Kelso, Lynn APRN, ACNP-BC

Section Editor(s): Scordo, Kristine Anne RN, PhD, ACNP-BC; Symposium Editor

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Abstract

Acute abdominal pain represents the cardinal symptom of a large number of intra-abdominal pathologies. Because of multiple organ systems, varied pathology from life threatening to benign, and differences in presentation related to sex and age, identifying a final diagnosis is a challenge. The clinician's goal for patients with acute abdominal pain is to rapidly identify whether the underlying cause requires an urgent or immediate surgical intervention. By developing a systematic approach to evaluating patients with abdominal pain, clinicians can generate a differential diagnosis to ensure appropriate treatment and improved patient outcomes. The purpose of this article is to provide clinicians with a framework for evaluating the complaint of acute abdominal pain and recognizing patients who require expedited evaluation.

© 2014 American Association of Critical–Care Nurses

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