A male went to the emergency room for severe mid-epigastric abdominal pain. He was diagnosed with AAA; however, as a precaution, the doctor ordered a CTA scan. Because of a high potential for misdiagnosis, determining the precise cause of abdominal pain can be time-consuming and challenging. By analyzing case studies of abnormal abdominal findings, nurses can prepare themselves to better diagnose conditions in the abdomen.

Abdominal pain is a common symptom experienced by patients seeking medical attention. It can be caused by a wide range of conditions, varying in severity and urgency of treatment. One condition that can cause severe abdominal pain is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). However, due to the potential for misdiagnosis and the complex nature of abdominal pain, it is essential for healthcare professionals, specifically nurses, to have a comprehensive understanding of abnormal abdominal findings. This paper aims to analyze case studies of abnormal abdominal findings to enhance nurses’ diagnostic abilities in identifying conditions in the abdomen.

Case Study 1: Acute Appendicitis
In a case study involving a 28-year-old male presenting with right lower quadrant pain, the nurse’s assessment played a crucial role in diagnosing acute appendicitis. The patient complained of localized pain, rebound tenderness, and a positive pain response upon palpation of McBurney’s point. Additional symptoms such as anorexia and nausea further supported the diagnosis. Based on the clinical findings, the nurse promptly initiated interventions and facilitated the patient’s surgical consult for an appendectomy.

Case Study 2: Cholecystitis
In another case study, a 55-year-old female presented with right upper quadrant pain, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Upon assessment, the nurse observed Murphy’s sign, which is the abrupt cessation of inspiration during deep palpation of the right subcostal area. The patient also had a history of gallstones and reported experiencing pain after consuming high-fat meals. These findings were indicative of cholecystitis. The nurse immediately notified the healthcare provider, and a surgical consult was arranged for the patient’s cholecystectomy.

Case Study 3: Pancreatitis
A case study involving a 45-year-old male demonstrated the importance of nurses’ knowledge and assessment skills in diagnosing pancreatitis. The patient presented with severe epigastric pain radiating to the back, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The nurse noted that the patient’s pain worsened after consuming alcohol and fatty meals. Physical examination revealed tachycardia, a tender abdomen, and the presence of Cullen’s and Grey Turner’s signs. The nurse promptly initiated interventions, including pain management and ordering laboratory tests. The patient was diagnosed with pancreatitis and received appropriate treatment.

Case Study 4: Gastroenteritis
In a case study involving a 10-year-old child, the nurse played a critical role in diagnosing gastroenteritis. The patient presented with diffuse abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. The nurse noted that the child had a fever and signs of dehydration. Based on the clinical presentation, the nurse suspected viral gastroenteritis and initiated interventions such as fluid resuscitation and antiemetics. The healthcare provider confirmed the diagnosis and adjusted the treatment plan accordingly.

Case Study 5: Diverticulitis
In a case study involving a 58-year-old male, the nurse’s assessment skills were instrumental in diagnosing diverticulitis. The patient presented with left lower quadrant pain, accompanied by fever, constipation, and a change in bowel habits. The nurse noted that the patient had a history of diverticulosis, which heightened suspicion for diverticulitis. The nurse facilitated the patient’s diagnostic workup, including imaging studies and laboratory tests. The patient was ultimately diagnosed with acute diverticulitis and received appropriate treatment.

Abdominal pain can arise from various conditions, making the differential diagnosis challenging. However, case studies provide valuable insights into the assessment and diagnostic process of conditions causing abnormal abdominal findings. Nurses play a crucial role in patient assessment, as they are often the first point of contact with the healthcare system.

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