Abdominal pain (AP) is a common reason for presentation to an emergency department (ED). With this prospective, observational all-comer study, we aimed to answer three questions: Which diagnoses are most often missed? What is the incidence of extra-abdominal causes? What is the prognosis of abdominal pain in a tertiary urban European ED? Participants were systematically interviewed for the presence of 35 predefined symptoms. For all patients with abdominal pain, the index visit diagnoses were recorded. Related representation was defined as any representation, investigation, or surgery related to the index visit (open time frame). If a diagnosis changed between index visit and representation, it was classified as missed diagnosis. Among 3960 screened presentations, 480 (12.1%) were due to AP. Among 63 (13.1%) related representations, the most prevalent causes were cholelithiasis, gastroenteritis, and urinary retention. A missed diagnosis was attributed to 27 (5.6%) presentations. Extra-abdominal causes were identified in 162 (43%) presentations. Thirty-day mortality was comparable to that of all other ED patients (2.2% vs. 2.1%). Patients with abdominal pain had a low risk of representation, and the majority of representations due to missed diagnoses were of benign origin. The high incidence of extra-abdominal causes is noteworthy, as this may induce change to differential diagnosis of abdominal pain.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited