How I Treat Acute Abdomen
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009
Luis H. Tello, DVM, MSc
Medical Advisor, Banfield Pet Hospital, USA

In veterinary medicine, the main causes for abdominal emergencies may be divided as traumatic or non-traumatic. A high percentage of these cases defined as abdominal emergencies are surgical cases that should be rushed into operation rooms, however the clinicians must be aware that not all of them are surgical, and often the decision can be very difficult. In general there are 3 situations that can be described as abdominal emergencies: Intra-abdominal lesions that require urgent surgical intervention after previous stabilization, medical conditions that not require immediate surgical intervention and other conditions that simulate an abdominal emergency. Please refer to the lecture of abdominal emergencies.

General approach:

 Perform a gentle physical exam including obtaining a detailed history from the owner

 Assess and categorize abdominal pain

 Place an IV catheter and start fluids at 10 ml/kg/hr in dogs and 5 ml/kg/hr in cats. Normosol-R.

 Provide oxygen 100 ml/kg/minute through a non-stressful device

 Evaluate the need for pain control: Butorphanol, Buprenorphine, Fentanyl

 Obtain samples for CBC, chemistry (including CPL), electrolytes, blood gases and coagulation panel

 Obtain survey radiographs of the abdomen and an ultrasound if there is not too much gas

 Tap the abdomen. If fluid is obtained, perform further analysis: cytology & chemistry

 If the radiographs reveal loss of details and no fluid is obtained, perform a abdominocentesis with ultrasound guidance or a peritoneal lavage

 Evaluate the need for surgery

 If a surgery is need, assess the patient for anesthesia: ECG, blood pressure, pulse oxymetry, blood gases and electrolytes (repeated).

 Discuss with the owner about the condition, the therapy plan, the prognosis, the cost and the long term care required

 Proceed with the surgery / procedure

 Re evaluate the patient after the surgery and plan the ICU care. Discuss the findings and prognosis with the owner again

 Provide hospital/ICU care with special emphasis in the nursing care


Speaker Information
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Luis H. Tello, DVM, MS
Medical Advisor, Banfield the Pet Hospital – USA

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