Abdominal Pain

Running Head: Abdominal Pain






College: Chamberlain College of Nursing


Course: NR 305 Health Assessment


Faculty Name:



Article Review


The title of the article being reviewed is the assessment of patients with acute abdominal pains, by Elaine Cole, Antonia Lynch and Helen Cugnoni. It was published on January 1, 2006 to offer guidelines to nurses when they are assessing patients suffering from severe abdominal pains. It presents the different causes of abdominal pains and their symptoms, which is a very fundamental knowledge for nurses. Most patients usually encounter nurses first before getting to the doctors. The duty of the nurse is to assess the patient’s condition and write a report that the doctor uses to treat the patient. Abdominal pain is the most common health problem, and has proved to be a menace to many people (Cole, et al, 2006). Nurses therefore need a comprehensive study of symptoms accompanying abdominal pains, to be in a position to know when a more serious problem is coming up.

Summary of the Article

This article is mainly focused on procedures of analyzing abdominal pains. The abdomen is usually divided into four quadrants namely the right upper quadrant, left upper quadrant, right lower quadrant and the left lower quadrant. The abdomen also carries different organs such as the spleen, liver stomach, intestines, pancreas and the kidney. The reproductive organs are also associated with the abdomen. A pain in the abdomen can be because of failure in any of the above organs. This is why it is important for nurses to learn the structure of the abdomen and the different disorders associated with these organs. This article provides this information in a summarized format, which will put them in a position of making a distinction between different symptoms, characterized by pain in the abdomen. It provides a set of questions that can be used in evaluating the patient’s condition. It also provides information on the functioning of these organs, such that it is possible to know when there is a problem.

When assessing the health of a patient, one of the most important things highlighted in this article is the patient’s history, including the health conditions prevailing in the family. For a patient with abdominal pains, the nurse needs to find out about the severity of the pain, any other symptoms experienced, the patient’s medical history and the family’s medical history. The first thing to consider should be the exact position where the pain is and the characteristic of the pain. The nurse should however be careful with this part, since different patients have different ways of making explanations. Besides the pain symptoms, other symptoms that the nurse should consider include the patient’s eating habits, excretion habits, and gynecological symptoms (Cole, et al, 2006).

The health assessment tools used in reviewing abdominal disorders include temperature assessment, heart beat rate, level of blood pressure, the rate of respiration, capillary refill time and blood sugar levels. Temperature assessment enables the nurse to determine whether the pain is caused by a bacterial infection. This is usually characterized by high body temperature. Heartbeat rate on the other hand indicates the severity of the patient’s condition. A high blood pressure shows the extent of the pain. The nurses cannot depend entirely on the patient’s description to know how they are feeling. A low rate of respiration is a sign of dehydration, which shows that the patient has been having severe diarrhea. Capillary refill time is also used to determine the level of dehydration. The normal time is usually two seconds, and an increase shows severe dehydration. Finally, a blood sugar level is used to determine whether the patient is suffering form pancreatitis. This condition is characterized by higher than usual sugar levels.

This article brings out the idea that women are more vulnerable to abdominal disorders as compared to men. The most common disorder affecting women is gynecological disorders. This includes ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory. Pelvic inflammatory is sexually transmitted, mostly affecting sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 20. Ectopic pregnancy on the other hand occurs when the fertilized ova implants itself on the fallopian tube, instead of the uterus. Female patients who are overweight are more vulnerable to biliary colic. This condition affects the bile duct, and is mostly brought about by gallstones. Urinary tract infection (UTI) is also another abdominal disorder, which mostly affects women. Men over 70 years of age are vulnerable to aneurysms (Cole, et al, 2006). This is a rare disorder characterized by the erosion of the walls of the arteries. This article also shows that some tools of health evaluation are not efficient in some population groups. For example, temperature cannot be relied on when the patient being examined is elderly. The rate of heartbeat also is not reliable in the case of pregnant women and athletes.

Evaluation of Article

This article is well summarized, to provide the nurses with the basics of evaluating patients with abdominal pains. The evaluation of different population groups is essential to enable the nurses to rule out some possibilities depending on the nature of the patient. The most interesting thing about it however is the fact that it outlines the most common disorders that may result to abdominal pain. From this article, a person is able to have an idea of what the problem might be. From there, it is easier to narrow down to the main problem. It even provides a guideline of the questions that can enable a nurse to judge the patient’s condition effectively.

The health assessment strategy explained in this article is beneficial to any practicing nurse. This is because it explains the possible causes of abdominal pains and the disorders that may be behind the pain. Being one of symptoms of the most serious diseases, abdominal pains require some serious attention, and the guide to this is provided in the article. This is a strategy anyone one dealing with patients at whatever capacity can adopt and be successful. It is clearly outlined, such that it does not need a lot of time to be studied and interpreted.

In my opinion, more articles should be written in this field of health assessment. Problems of the abdomen come in various forms, and may end up in very complicated conditions, such as esophageal cancer. The changing eating habits and ways of living bring about more health complications each day. That is why more research needs to be done to detect these problems before they take root. These articles can be of great benefit to medical practitioners, who due to their busy schedule are unable to carry out the research on their own. They are also important learning tools, since they present updated information on health issues.

This article addresses the health needs of the whole population in general. It is however inclined to women who are more vulnerable to health problems affecting the abdomen. A good example is the abdominal cramps experienced during menstruation. This is common to most of the women, and the other forms of pains are usually confused for this one (Cole, et al, 2006). Therefore this article will assist them to know when the pain they are experiencing is the normal cramping or another problem occurring. A complication detected at its early stage is much easier to treat.


Abdominal pains need careful assessment because of their diverse causes. Before any conclusion is drawn regarding the patient’s condition, the nurse should be sure of their findings. The article brings out the fact that these pains can be fatal, in some cases. Proper assessment can save the patient a lot of pain and resources. Dealing with chronic cases is usually costly and may even lead to permanent conditions, such as specialized diets and routine checks. There have been cases of patients being treated for wrong diseases. This has cost many people their lives due to ignorance by the nurses. Careful assessment eliminates the possibility of such a mistake from occurring.


Cole, E., Lynch, A., & Cugnoni, H. (2006). Assessment of the Patient with Acute

Abdominal Pain. Nursing Standard, 13 (39), 67-76.

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