One large cross-sectional study of adults living in the community found that about one individual out of every three reported at least one episode of "abdominal pain or discomfort" during the preceding 3 months.3 The population-based annual incidence of adults presenting to the emergency department (ED) for acute abdominal conditions is approximately 44/1000.

Data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics indicate that abdominal pain was the single "most frequently mentioned" reason offered by patients for visiting the ED in 1996 (annual incidence approximately 57/1000 adult ED visits. 4 Admission rates for abdominal pain vary markedly, ranging from 18 to 42 percent, with rates as high as 63 percent reported in patients over 65 years of age.5

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