Abdominal Pain


  • Given a patient presenting with abdominal pain, perform a patient-centered interview and focused physical exam, list and interpret clinical findings. Then,
    • Identify signs and symptoms of a surgical abdomen.
    • Identify red flags of potential serious causes including referred pain from chest
    • Identify psychosocial factors associated with chronic and recurrent abdominal pain.
    • Propose a relevant differential diagnosis that includes common causes of abdominal pain and less common but important causes of abdominal pain.
  • For patients with acute abdominal pain, propose an initial management plan that includes appropriate and timely referral/investigation for potentially serious causes.
  • For patients with chronic/recurrent abdominal pain, propose a management plan that highlights initial investigations and basic management.

Core Resources

Abdominal Pain One-Page Primer

Lam E, Maxted JM. Abdominal Pain One-Page Primer.  DFCM Open.  2013.  Available at: https://dfcmopen.com.  Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND

Evaluation of Acute Abdominal Pain in Adults

Cartwright SL, Knudson MP. Evaluation of Acute Abdominal Pain in Adults. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77(7):971-978.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome One-Page Primer

Cheung L, Nicolle E. Irritable Bowel Syndrome One-Page Primer.  DFCM Open.  2014.  Available at: https://dfcmopen.com.  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND

Supplemental Resources

Acute GI-related Abdominal Pain

The Calgary Guide to Understanding Disease. Acute GI-Related Abdominal Pain: Pathogenesis and Characteristics. Published Aug 7, 2012. Available at: http://calgaryguide.ucalgary.ca/

The Diagnosis and Management of IBS in Adults

Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR. Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(5):419-426. doi: d10520 [pii]