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 ::  Abstract
 ::  Introduction
 ::  Material and Methods
 ::  Observations
 ::  Discussion
 ::  References
 ::  Article Figures
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Year : 1978  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 121-124

Acute abdomen

Department of Surgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh-160 012., India

Correspondence Address:
J D Wig
Department of Surgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh-160 012.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 722606

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 :: Abstract 

550 cases of acute abdomen have been analysed in detail includ­ing their clinical presentation and operative findings. Males are more frequently affected than females in a ratio of 3: 1. More than 45% of patients presented after 48 hours of onset of symptoms. Intestinal obstruction was the commonest cause of acute abdomen (47.6%). External hernia was responsible for 26% of cases of intestinal obstruction.
Perforated peptic ulcer was the commonest cause of peritonitis in the present series (31.7%) while incidence of biliary peritonitis was only 2.4%..
The clinical accuracy rate was 87%. The mortality in operated cases was high (10%) while the over­all mortality rate was 7.5%.

How to cite this article:
Wig J D, Basur R L. Acute abdomen. J Postgrad Med 1978;24:121-4

How to cite this URL:
Wig J D, Basur R L. Acute abdomen. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1978 [cited 2023 May 30];24:121-4. Available from:

 :: Introduction Top

Acute abdomen is quite a common sur­gical emergency and is defined broadly as any acute abdominal episode of enough severity so as to force the patient to seek medical advice.

The object of the present study was to find out the incidence, the aetiological analysis, the evaluation of signs and symptoms, clinical accuracy of the diag­nosis and lastly to know the results of management in acute abdomen in our in­stitute hospital (750 bed strength).

 :: Material and Methods Top

All cases of acute abdomen presenting in the emergency service of our hospital over a period of 2 years were studied. During this period, a total of 9625 cases were admitted and out of these 550 cases (5.77c) presenting with acute abdomen were analysed. A special proforma was filled up and cases were analysed accord­ing to the aims already mentioned.

This study excluded cases of paediatric age group below 10 years.

 :: Observations Top

[Figure 1] shows the age and sex distribu­tion of the patients studied. Of the 550 cases, 403 were males and 147 females. Their ages varied between 10-70 years and most of them were in the age range of 20-40 years.

Clinical Presentation

The main presenting symptoms were pain associated with vomiting. These patients also had constipation, nausea, distention of abdomen, anorexia and ob­stipation as shown in [Figure 2].

Duration and Symptoms

45% of patients presented after forty eight hours of onset of symptoms while only 19% presented in the first twelve hours.

17% of cases presented between 1e, and 24 hours whereas 7% presented between 24 and 48 hours after the onset of symp­toms.

Aetiological Analysis

The aetiological analysis is shown in [Table 1]. Intestinal obstruction was the commonest cause of acute abdomen (37.6%), followed by peritonitis (22.4%), acute appendicitis (21.4%) and cholecys­titis (6.0%).

Operative Findings

Operative treatment was carried out in 407 patients (74.%) and 143 patients (26.0%) were treated conservatively. Eight per cent of the cases were operated upon within 12 hours of their admission to the hospital. The clinical accuracy rate was 87% in these patients.

Mean hospital stay was two weeks. Forty patients (10%) died after surgery while only one patient died in the con­servative treatment group. The overall mortality was 7.5%.

 :: Discussion Top

There are a very few reports in the literature, especially in India, on acute abdomen. The few reported series that we have come across are shown in [Table 2].

In our series, intestinal obstruction con­stituted the major group (37.6%) of acute abdomen. The commonest cause of in­testinal obstruction was external hernia (26.0%), [Table 3]. The next commonest cause in our series was adhesions (23.1%). The incidence of volvulus of the bowel in the present series was 17.0%. This is in contrast to the report­ed series in the Western Literature where the incidence is low 4.7% [4],[9]

General peritonitis (22.4%) was the next common cause of acute abdomen in the present series [Table 1]. Perforated peptic ulcer was the major culprit in the causation of peritonitis (31.7%) followed closely by the perforated appendix (25.2%),[Table 4]. Incidence of biliary peritonitis was only 2.4% which is rather low as compared to the reported incidence of 6-25% in the Western Literature. [5],[6] The incidence of burst amoebic liver abs­cess causing peritonitis was 3.2%. Enteric perforation of the small intestine con­stitutes a significant group in our country and was responsible for 7.4% of cases of peritonitis in this study which is in con­firmity with the series reported by Bhansali [1] and Budhraja et al [2] . The in­cidence of peritonitis caused by Trauma was 5.7%. In 9.8% of cases, the defini­tive causative factor could not be ascer­tained [Table 4].

Acute appendicitis was seen in 117 patients constituting 21.4% of all cases of acute abdomen. These were the cases of acute appendicitis without generalised peritonitis. Taking into consideration the 31 cases of perforated appendix which were responsible for generalized peri­tonitis the total number of appendicular cases comes to 148 (27%).

The incidence of pancreatitis in the pre­sent series was rather low (4.3%). The serum anylase was above 500 units in all these cases.

The incidence of cholecystitis was 6 which is high as compared to reported in­cidence in the South.[7] This is in con­sonance with the reported low incidence of gall bladder disease in South India as compared to the North.

The overall mortality rate in the pre­sent series was 7.5% while mortality in operated cases was 10%. The higher mortality rate is probably due to the de­layed arrival of patients to the hospital, 45/o presenting after 48 hours of onset of symptoms.

 :: References Top

1.Bhansali, S. K.: Gastrointestinal perfora­tions-a clinical study of 96 cases. J. Postgrad. Med., 13: 1-12, 1967.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Budhraja, S. N., Chidamaram, M. and Perianayagam, W. J.: Peritonitis-an analysis of 117 cases. Indian J. Surg., 35: 456-464, 1973.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Burnett, W.: Acute cholecystitis. The Practitioner. 209: 150-156, 1972.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Coletti, L., Edmunds, R., Tout, A. J. and Zintal, H. A.: Mechanical small bowel obstruction. Amer. J. Surg., 101: 307-375, 1962.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Diffenbaugh, W. G,, Sravar, F. E. and Strohi, E. L.: Gangrenous perforation of the gall bladder. Arch. Surg., 59: 742-749, 1949.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Pines, B. and Robinovitch, J.: Perforation of the gall bladder in acute cholecystitis, Ann. Surg., 140: 170179, 1954.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Sankaran, V.: Acute abdominal surgical condition. J. Indian Med. Assoc., 39: 14-22, 1962.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Staniland, J R., Ditchburn, J. and Dedombal, F. T.: Clinical presentation of acute abdomen, a study of 600 patients. Brit. Med. J., 3: 393-398, 1972.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Waldron, G. W. and Hempton, J. M.: In­testinal obstruction-a half century com­parative analysis. Ann. Surg., 153: 839-850, 1961.  Back to cited text no. 9    


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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