n primary care settings, patients often present with abdominal pain. Although this is frequently a sign of a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, abdominal pain could also be the result of other systemic disorders, making this type of pain difficult to assess. While abdominal pain is most common, many other GI symptoms also overlap multiple disorders, further increasing the difficulty in diagnosing and treating patients. This makes provider-patient communication essential. You must be able to formulate questions that will prompt the patient to provide the necessary information, as this will guide your assessment and diagnosis. For this Discussion, consider potential diagnoses for the patients in the following case studies.
Case Study 1:
A 49-year-old man presents to the office complaining of vague abdominal discomfort over the past few days. He states he does not feel like eating and has not moved his bowels for the last 2 days. His patient medical history includes an appendectomy at age 22 and borderline hypertension, which he is trying to control with diet and exercise. He takes no medications and has no known allergies. Positive physical exam findings include a temperature of 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit, heart rate of 98, respiratory rate of 24, and blood pressure of 150/72. The abdominal exam reveals abdominal distention, diminished bowel sounds, and lower left quadrant tenderness without rebound.
Think about a differential diagnosis. Consider the role the patient history and physical exam played in diagnosis.
Reflect on potential treatment options based on your diagnosis.