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Approach to acute abdominal pain in pregnant and postpartum women

Charlie C Kilpatrick, MD
Section Editors
Vincenzo Berghella, MD
Martin Weiser, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


The approach to acute abdominal/pelvic pain in pregnancy is similar to that in the nonpregnant state, with some additional challenges. The initial goal is to identify patients who have a serious or even life-threatening etiology for their symptoms and require urgent intervention. Additional issues in pregnant women include consideration of the impact of physiologic changes related to pregnancy, causes of acute abdominal/pelvic pain that may be more common due to the pregnant state or related to obstetrical complications, and the impact of the disease process on the fetus. Indicated diagnostic imaging and interventions should be performed since delay in diagnosis and treatment can increase maternal and fetal/newborn morbidity and mortality.

This topic will review issues specific to the diagnostic evaluation and management of acute abdominal/pelvic pain in pregnant and postpartum women. The approach to acute abdominal/pelvic pain in other populations is discussed separately:

(See "Evaluation of the adult with abdominal pain".)

(See "Causes of abdominal pain in adults".)

(See "Evaluation of acute pelvic pain in women".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 17, 2017.
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