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Abdominal distention

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Definition

Epidemiology

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Pathophysiology

Differential Diagnosis

Ascites

An abnormal collection of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. Broadly speaking, the causes can be split into transudate, exudate and chylous (obstruction of the lymphatics).

Bowel obstruction

Enlarged organs

This is more seen as an abdominal mass, but your organs can get bigger: hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, bladdermegaly, stomachmegaly etc. (I may have made the last two up). The uterus also enlarges in fibroids.

Non-pathological

Being fat and/or preggers.

Clinical and Associated Features

Ascites

Bowel Obstruction

  • Mechanical - abdominal pain (usually cramp), vomiting (especially late in high obstructions), constipation, distention (especially with low obstruction)
  • Non-mechanical (paralytic ileus - the bowel just ain't working baby) - no pain or tenderness, distention, no flatus or faeces, no bowel sounds, vomiting, high nasogastric output.

Investigations

Management