Abdominal pain is a common reason for being referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. This can be acute or chronic and related to a broad range of reasons.
Acute Abdominal pain
If the abdominal pain is acute and severe this would usually warrant urgent assessment in the emergency room (A&E) with blood tests and x-ray tests. Further treatment is dictated by the cause of the symptoms.
Chronic Abdominal pain
Chronic abdominal pain is also a very common reason for a referral to gastroenterologist, and likewise the location of the pain is a useful indication as to its cause.
Important investigations include:
- Blood tests
- Abdominal ultrasound
- CT scan
Gastroscopy can be helpful if the cause is thought to be in the upper gastrointestinal tract, while a colonoscopy would be appropriate if there is a change in bowel habit.
Abdominal pain can be associated with a broad range of other associated gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal distension. This can be seen in conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is also associated with fluid accumulation within the abdomen (ascites) or problems with the small or large intestines. Important investigations for abdominal distension include ultrasound scan and CT scan.