It is axiomatic in emergency medicine that appropriate disposition and management of acute illness takes precedence over diagnostic accuracy. However, extraordinary technological advances have made rapid, noninvasive diagnosis of many causes of abdominal pain widely available. This has occurred in parallel with the development of an equally sophisticated array of therapeutic options. The net effect of this phenomenon has been to tie diagnosis more closely to disposition and treatment than was the case when the only interventions in abdominal pain were laparotomy vs. observation with medical management.
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