Acute abdominal pain and urgency to defecate in the young and the old: a useful symptom-complex?

J Emerg Med. Mar-Apr 1999;17(2):239-42. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(98)00160-7.


In the belief that "pattern recognition" is an important first step of the diagnostic process, we report our observation of an uncommon and heretofore poorly documented symptom-complex in 10 patients, and suggest that the constellation of abdominal pain and urgency to defecate in the acutely ill surgical patient should raise the diagnostic possibility of intra-abdominal bleeding. In our experience, this is statistically likely to be associated with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm in the old and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in the young.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen, Acute / etiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / complications
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / diagnosis*
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / surgery
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / complications
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnosis*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / surgery
  • Defecation*
  • Emergencies
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / complications
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / surgery