Acute abdominal pain in the elderly: Surgical causes

Katren R Tyler, Maura Kennedy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter presents a case of 72-year-old man who brought to the emergency department (ED) with complaining of abdominal pain. Delirium, dementia, and psychiatric illnesses such as depression may have an impact upon the evaluation of an elderly patient with acute abdominal pain. In the initial evaluation of abdominal pain in an older person, the emergency provider should consider time-dependent problems such as vascular catastrophes and acute myocardial ischemia, in addition to less-time critical intra- and extra-abdominal causes of acute abdominal pain. Patients with abdominal pain from biliary causes present with symptoms and signs that cause the presenting condition to range from benign to critically ill. The majority of patients with a large bowel obstruction (LBO) presents with abdominal distension and pain. For evaluation of acute abdominal pain in older patients the options are computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound imaging, and plain radiograph studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeriatric Emergencies
Subtitle of host publicationA Discussion-based Review
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781118753262
ISBN (Print)9781118753347
StatePublished - May 31 2016


  • Acute abdominal pain
  • Biliary disease
  • Computed tomography scan
  • Dementia
  • Elderly patients
  • Large bowel obstruction
  • Mesenteric ischemia
  • Plain radiograph studies
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Ultrasound imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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