Evaluation of the emergency department patient with acute abdominal pain is sometimes difficult. Various factors can obscure the presentation, delaying or preventing the correct diagnosis, with subsequent adverse patient outcomes. Clinicians must consider multiple diagnoses, especially those life-threatening conditions that require timely intervention to limit morbidity and mortality. This article will review general information on abdominal pain and discuss the clinical approach by review of the history and the physical examination. Additionally, this article will discuss the approach to unstable patients with abdominal pain.
Keywords: acute abdomen; emergency medicine; peritonitis.