Acute Abdominal Pain Assessment in the Emergency Department: The Experience of a Greek University Hospital

Dimitrios Velissaris, Menelaos Karanikolas, Nikolaos Pantzaris, George Kipourgos, Vasileios Bampalis, Konstantina Karanikola, Eleftheria Fafliora, Christina Apostolopoulou, Charalampos Gogos


Background: Acute abdominal pain (AAP) is a common symptom in the emergency department (ED). Because abdominal pain can be caused by a wide spectrum of underlying pathology, evaluation of abdominal pain in the ED requires a comprehensive approach, based on patient history, physical examination, laboratory tests and imaging studies. The aim of this study was to investigate predictive factors for admission to the hospital in patients who presented to the ED with AAP as the main symptom.

Methods: This prospective observational study enrolled 125 patients who presented with AAP in the ED of the Patras University Hospital in western Greece. The sample of patients who enrolled in the study was representative of patients who receive care in this academic institution. All patients underwent clinical examination, laboratory testing and radiological assessment. Clinical and laboratory data were analyzed in an attempt to identify clinical or laboratory factors predicting hospital admission.

Results: Based on clinical, laboratory and radiologic evaluation, 37.6% of patients enrolled in the study were admitted to the hospital, whereas 62.4% were not admitted. Compared to patients who were not admitted, patients admitted to the hospital had higher age and significantly higher inflammatory markers, white blood count and C-reactive protein (CRP). Binary logistic regression analysis showed that abnormal imaging findings (odds ratio (OR) = 6.47, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.11 - 19.77, P < 0.001) and elevated serum CRP levels (OR = 6.24, 95% CI: 2.16 - 18.03, P < 0.001) were significant predictive factors for hospital admission.

Conclusions: Assessment of AAP remains a challenging problem in the ED. Comprehensive history combined with detailed clinical examination, appropriate laboratory testing and radiologic imaging facilitates effective assessment of patients who present in the ED with AAP and guides the decision to admit patients to the hospital for further care.

J Clin Med Res. 2017;9(12):987-993


Acute abdominal pain; Emergency room; Hospital admission; Diagnosis; Physical examination

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