An abdominal mass is swelling in one part of the belly area (abdomen).
An abdominal mass is usually found during a routine physical examination. Most of the time the mass develops slowly. You may not be able to feel the mass.
Finding where the pain occurs helps the doctor make a diagnosis. For example, the abdomen is usually divided into four areas:
Other terms used to find the location of abdominal pain or masses include:
The location of the mass and its firmness, texture, and other qualities can provide clues to its cause.
All abdominal masses should be examined as soon as possible by the health care provider.
Changing your body position may help relieve pain due to an abdominal mass.
Seek immediate medical help if you have a pulsating lump in your abdomen along with severe abdominal pain. This could be a sign of a ruptured aortic aneurysm, which is an emergency condition.
Contact your doctor if you notice any type of abdominal mass.
In nonemergency situations, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history.
In an emergency situation, you will be stabilized first. Then, the doctor will exam your abdomen and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:
A pelvic or rectal examination may be needed in some cases. Tests that may be done to find the cause of an abdominal mass include:
Mass in the abdomen
Bengiamin RN, Budhram Gr, King KE, Wightman JM. Abdominal pain. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2009:chap 21.
Postier RG, Squires RA. Acute abdomen. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 45.
Reviewed by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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