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Minerva Chirurgica 2020 June;75(3):169-72

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4733.20.08266-8

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Acute abdominal pain in older adults: a clinical and diagnostic challenge

Giuseppe SANGIORGIO, Antonio BIONDI, Francesco BASILE, Marco VACANTE

Department of General Surgery and Medical-Surgical Specialties, University of Catania, Catania, Italy



INTRODUCTION: Abdominal pain (AP) is one of the most frequent clinical condition observed in elderly patients. The differential diagnosis is wide and definitive diagnosis is often difficult due to delayed symptoms, altered laboratory parameters, pre-existing medical disorders, abuse of drugs and in absence of an accurate medical history.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A systematic literature review was carried out through PubMed database for studies published in the last ten years. The following search string was used: {(“geriatric”[Title] OR “older”[Title] OR “aged”[Title] OR “elderly”[Title]) AND (((“abdomen”[Title] AND “acute”[Title]) OR “acute abdomen”[Title] OR (“acute”[Title] AND “abdomen”[Title])) OR (“abdominal”[Title] AND “pain”[title]) OR “abdominal pain”[Title])}. Full articles and abstracts were included. Case reports, commentaries, editorials and letters were excluded from the analysis.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: As the age of people presenting AP advances, both rates of surgical procedures and mortality rate increase.
CONCLUSIONS: A systematic approach based on the organization of differential diagnoses into categories, may provide a helpful framework by the combined use of history-taking, physical examination, and results of diagnostic studies. In elderly patients admitted to the emergency department, a crucial role is played by a prompt use of radiological investigations in order to discriminate between older subjects admitted to the emergency department with abdominal pain and pathological cases requiring immediate surgical treatment.


KEY WORDS: Acute abdomen; Aged; Operative surgical procedures; Diagnosis; Abdominal pain

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