Get a Leg Up on Diagnosis of Abdominal Masses

April 1, 2007

It can be difficult to tell whether a vaguely palpable abdominal mass is intra-abdominal, in the abdominal wall, or extra-abdominal. To differentiate among these 3 types, ask the patient, while lying on the examination table, to lift either the head or legs; then palpate the mass again.

 

It can be difficult to tell whether a vaguely palpable abdominal mass is intra-abdominal, in the abdominal wall, or extra-abdominal. To differentiate among these 3 types, ask the patient, while lying on the examination table, to lift either the head or legs; then palpate the mass again. If the mass is intra-abdominal, the perceived swelling will diminish. If the mass is outside the abdominal wall tissue, it will become more prominent. If it is in the abdominal wall, the swelling either will not change or will diminish.
- Mohammed M. Basha, MD
  Gainesville, Fla

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