Specific Diagnoses And Issues

This section reviews the major diagnostic causes of abdominal pain in the older patient and points out specific diagnostic issues to consider in this population. The frequency of each particular disease varies in the reported case series of elderly patients presenting to the ED with abdominal pain. Cholecystitis (12 to 41 percent) is generally the most frequently encountered disease of a surgical nature, followed by bowel obstruction (7 to 14 percent). Nonspecific abdominal pain is also a frequent diagnosis (10 to 23 percent). Perforated viscus, appendicitis, diverticulitis, and pancreatitis each generally represent around 4 to 7 percent, depending on the case series. Aortic aneurysms and mesenteric ischemia are less common.8,68 General coverage of the following conditions can also be found in other chapters.

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