Acute Abdomen

Posted by e-Medical PPT
Acute and severe abdominal pain, however, is almost always a symptom of intra-abdominal disease. It may be the sole indicator of the need for surgery and must be attended to swiftly: Gangrene and perforation of the gut can occur < 6 h from onset of symptoms in certain conditions (eg, interruption of the intestinal blood supply from a strangulating obstruction or an arterial embolus). 
Visceral pain comes from the abdominal viscera, which are innervated by autonomic nerve fibers and respond mainly to the sensations of distention and muscular contraction—not to cutting, tearing, or local irritation. Visceral pain is typically vague, dull, and nauseating. It is poorly localized and tends to be referred to areas corresponding to the embryonic origin of the affected structure. Common examples of referred pain are scapular pain due to biliary colic, groin pain due to renal colic, and shoulder pain due to blood or infection irritating the diaphragm.
Peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneal cavity. The most serious cause is perforation of the GI tract which produces immediate chemical inflammation followed shortly by infection from intestinal organisms. Peritonitis can also result from any abdominal condition that produces marked inflammation (eg, appendicitis, diverticulitis, strangulating intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, mesenteric ischemia). Intraperitoneal blood from any source (eg, ruptured aneurysm, trauma, surgery, ectopic pregnancy) is irritating and results in peritonitis. Rarely, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis occurs, in which the peritoneal cavity is infected by blood-borne bacteria. Peritonitis causes fluid shift into the peritoneal cavity and bowel, leading to severe dehydration and electrolyte disturbances. Adult respiratory distress syndrome can develop rapidly. Kidney failure, liver failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulation follow.

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