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Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2019 Aug 6:9922819867459. doi: 10.1177/0009922819867459. [Epub ahead of print]

Undifferentiated Abdominal Pain in Children Presenting to the Pediatric Emergency Department.

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1 Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, MO, USA.
2 Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA.
3 Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA.
4 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA.
5 St Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, St Louis, MO, USA.


Although common, little is known about the characteristics and management of undifferentiated abdominal pain (UAP) in the pediatric emergency department (ED). This study was a 12-month retrospective study for "abdominal pain" ED visits. Patients without an identifiable diagnosis were categorized as "UAP," while others with identified disease processes were categorized as "structural gastrointestinal diagnosis (SGID)." We included 2383 (72%) visits with 869 (36.5%) UAP visits and 1514 (63.5%) SGID visits. SGID patients had more laboratory tests (811 [53.6%] vs 422 [48.6%], P = .0186), and often had multiple tests performed (565 [69.7%] vs 264 [62.6%], P = .0116). Computed tomography and ultrasound scans were more common in SGID (computed tomography: 108 [7.1%] vs 27 [3.1%], P = .0004; ultrasound: 377 [24.9%] vs 172 [19.9%], P = .0044), and laboratory results (white blood cell count, hemoglobin, albumin, C-reactive protein) were abnormal at significantly higher rates. Analyses revealed the duration of pain as primary covariate in variance of pain etiology. Clinical features, such as duration of pain, may be augmented by laboratory tests to facilitate recognition of UAP in the ED.


abdominal pain; emergency department; pediatrics; undifferentiated


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