The acute abdomen in spinal cord injury individuals

Z. Bar-On, A. Ohry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A review of 1300 patients with spinal cord injury (SCI), over a period of 14 years, revealed 12 patients with an ‘acute abdomen’. Seven events occurred during the initial admission, ranging from 10 days to 9 months from injury, and five during readmission of ‘chronic’ SCI patients. Four were in the acute stage 10-30 days from injury, all with peptic ulcer perforations. The remainder had either an intestinal obstruction, appendicitis or peritonitis. All of the neurological levels were above T6 except for one patient who had a low level paraplegia. The classical signs of an ‘acute abdomen’ may be missing in such patients thus delaying diagnosis by 1-4 days. The most important signs were autonomic dysreflexia, referred shoulder tip pain, abdominal pain, abdominal distension, increased spasticity and abdominal pain with nausea and vomiting. Less importance was given to the classical signs of abdominal tenderness, abdominal muscle rigidity, rebound, fever and of leukocytosis. Prompt diagnosis and treatment will minimise morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-706
Number of pages3
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • Acute abdomen
  • Autonomic dysreflexia
  • Perforation
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Volvulus


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