The acute abdomen (Proceedings)

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The acute abdomen (Proceedings)

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Nov 01, 2010

Acute abdominal pain is often associated with a variety of disorders in small animals. Abdominal pain can be the result of many different underlying diseases processes, many of which can be life threatening. Clinical signs can range from abdominal distension, prayer-type postures, vomiting and diarrhea, to more serious findings such as collapse, hypovolemic shock, hypothermia, and difficulty breathing. Acute abdominal pain thus requires rapid and efficient diagnostic evaluation with proper treatment to facilitate patient survival.

Diseases causing severe abdominal pain can be categorized by the abdominal viscera:

Gastrointestinal
     √ Pancreatitis
     √ Gastric dilation or volvulus
     √ Mesenteric volvulus
     √ Intestinal obstruction
     √ Intussusception
     √ Gastrointestinal perforation
     √ Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
     √ Parvovirus
     √ Neoplasia

Hepatic
     √ Trauma
     √ Neoplasia
     √ Abscess
     √ Cholelithiasis
     √ Cholestasis
     √ Biliary obstruction or stasis

Spleen
     √ Splenic torsion
     √ Neoplasia

Urogenital
     √ Rupture or leakage
     √ Prostatic abscess
     √ Testicular torsion
     √ Pyometra
     √ Uterine torsion or rupture
     √ Dystocia
     √ Obstruction

Pain associated with any such disease processes can be the result of inflammation of the abdominal viscera or the peritoneum. Inflammation can be secondary to infection, ischemia, distension or organ rupture or torsion. In addition, malperfusion or poor perfusion of the abdominal region can result in tissue hypoxia and subsequent organ failure.

Diseases causing acute abdominal pain can affect multiple organ systems, specifically the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and neurologic systems. Physical evaluation of each system is paramount to successful therapy. Rapid stabilization techniques should be instituted as life threatening problems are identified.