Approach to the acute abdomen during pregnancy

Dr. Tao Shen

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Dr. Tao Shen
MBBS (Hons), University of New South Wales (2010)
Intern, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital

Tao submitted this article to the AMSJ as a final year medical student in 2010. She was the recipient of the University Medal for Medicine. The review was stimulated by a few memorable patient encounters during her Obstetrics and Gynaecology term at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick.


Many physiological changes in pregnancy may affect the presentation of abdominal pain in the pregnant patient. Rapid diagnosis and management is required to prevent dire complications for both mother and fetus. Most radiological investigations are not harmful to the developing fetus and can avoid unnecessary and potentially detrimental explorative surgery. The role of laparoscopy in the pregnant patient is increasingly being established, particularly in centres with this surgical expertise.