Acute Abdomen

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Acute Abdomen


a pathological condition within the abdominal cavity that accompanies serious destructive, degenerative diseases and traumas of the abdominal organs.

Acute abdomen is characterized by sudden, sharp pains in the abdomen, tension of the muscles of the anterior abdominal wall, and irritation of the peritoneum. It arises in conjunction with many abnormal processes, including acute appendicitis, intestinal obstructions, and perforating gastric ulcers, as well as with strangulated hernias, acute cholecystitis, acute pancreatitis, and thrombosis of the intestinal vessels. It can also accompany the rupture of organs, including the rupture of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in extrauterine pregnancy. Pain associated with acute abdomen is usually accompanied by restless behavior of the patient in bed and by pallor, cold sweat, vomiting, and fecal retention. The pulse rate and respiration become accelerated. Roentgenoscopy of the abdominal cavity can reveal symptoms of a perforating ulcer or of an intestinal obstruction; diseases of the pancreas can be confirmed by blood counts and urinalysis.

A patient with acute abdomen must be immediately admitted to a surgical hospital and placed under a doctor’s care. Before hospitalization, the patient should neither eat nor drink; any analgesics, narcotics, antibiotics, laxatives, or enemas are also contraindicated. Cold compresses on the abdomen are permitted. When reflex reactions in conditions such as renal colic, pneumonia, and myocardial infarction produce a syndrome that resembles acute abdomen, the patient should be hospitalized to receive antispasmodic therapy and Novocain blockades, and the contents of the intestines should be removed. In the majority of cases of acute abdomen, emergency surgical intervention is indicated.


Komarov, F. I., V. A. Lisovskii, and V. G. Borisov. Ostryi zhivot i zheludochno-kishechnye krovotecheniia v praktike terapevta i khirurga. Leningrad, 1971.
Simonian, K. S. Peritonit. Moscow, 1971.


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