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Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2002 Feb;20(1):139-53.

Common abdominal emergencies in children.

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA. dagostinj@upstate.edu

Abstract

Because young children often present to EDs with abdominal complaints, emergency physicians must have a high index of suspicion for the common abdominal emergencies that have serious sequelae. At the same time, they must realize that less serious causes of abdominal symptoms (e.g., constipation or gastroenteritis) are also seen. A gentle yet thorough and complete history and physical examination are the most important diagnostic tools for the emergency physician. Repeated examinations and observation are useful tools. Physicians should listen carefully to parents and their children, respect their concerns, and honor their complaints. Ancillary tests are inconsistent in their value in assessing these complaints. Abdominal radiographs can be normal in children with intussusception and even malrotation and early volvulus. Unlike the classic symptoms seen in adults, young children can display only lethargy or poor feeding in cases of appendicitis or can appear happy and playful between paroxysmal bouts of intussusception. The emergency physician therefore, must maintain a high index of suspicion for serious pathology in pediatric patients with abdominal complaints. Eventually, all significant abdominal emergencies reveal their true nature, and if one can be patient with the child and repeat the examinations when the child is quiet, one will be rewarded with the correct diagnosis.

PMID:
11826631
DOI:
10.1016/s0733-8627(03)00055-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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