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World J Clin Cases. Dec 16, 2013; 1(9): 276-284
Published online Dec 16, 2013. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v1.i9.276
Etiology of non-traumatic acute abdomen in pediatric emergency departments
Wen-Chieh Yang, Chun-Yu Chen, Han-Ping Wu
Wen-Chieh Yang, Chun-Yu Chen, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Changhua Christian Hospital, 500 Changhua, Taiwan
Wen-Chieh Yang, Chun-Yu Chen, School of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, 400 Taichung, Taiwan
Han-Ping Wu, Department of Pediatrics, Taichung Tzuchi Hospital, the Buddhist Medical Foundation, Taichung 427, Taiwan
Han-Ping Wu, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Tzu Chi University, 970 Hualien, Taiwan
Author contributions: Yang WC compared related studies and wrote the manuscript; Chen CY coordinated and provided the collection of clinical images and wrote some parts of the manuscript; Wu HP designed the mini review.
Correspondence to: Han-Ping Wu, MD, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Taichung Tzuchi Hospital, the Buddhist Medical Foundation, No.88, Sec. 1, Fongsing Rd., Tanzih Dist, Taichung 427, Taiwan.
Telephone: +886-4-36060666 Fax: +886-4-36021123
Received: June 27, 2013
Revised: October 29, 2013
Accepted: November 2, 2013
Published online: December 16, 2013

Acute abdominal pain is a common complaint in pediatric emergency departments. A complete evaluation is the key factor approaching the disease and should include the patient’s age, any trauma history, the onset and chronicity of the pain, the related symptoms and a detailed physical examination. The aim of this review article is to provide some information for physicians in pediatric emergency departments, with the age factors and several causes of non-traumatic acute abdominal pain. The leading causes of acute abdominal pain are divided into four age groups: infants younger than 2 years old, children 2 to 5, children 5 to 12, and children older than 12 years old. We review the information about acute appendicitis, intussusception, Henoch-Schönlein purpura, infection, Meckel’s diverticulum and mesenteric adenitis. In conclusion, the etiologies of acute abdomen in children admitted to the emergency department vary depending on age. A complete history and detailed physical examination, as well as abdominal imaging examinations, could provide useful information for physicians in the emergency department to narrow the differential diagnosis of abdominal emergencies and give a timely treatment.

Keywords: Abdominal pain, Non-traumatic acute abdominal pain

Core tip: The mini review provides the essential information for physicians in pediatric emergency departments, mainly focused on the clinical diagnosis in different age groups and on several major causes of acute abdominal pain in children.