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Abdominal Rigidity



  • Firmness of the abdominal wall muscles may be due to guarding or rigidity. It is important to determine whether this is voluntary, due to the patient's apprehension, or involuntary - a sign of peritonism.
    • Interpretation

    • Guarding - refers to a voluntary muscle contraction, to protect from pain.
    • Rigidity - refers to an involuntary muscle spasm due to underlying inflammation.
    • Feel For

    • Tense abdominal muscles, generally isolated over one segment.
    • Causes of Abdominal Rigidity

    • Infection post perforation - appendix, diverticulitis, IBD, perforated ulcer, surgical anastomosis
    • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP)
    • Blood - endometriosis, ruptured ovarian cyst, trauma
    • Bile - post-surgical
    • Urine - pelvic trauma
    • Pancreatic fluid - pancreatitis
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