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Signs
 
 

Abdominal Rigidity

 
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Overview

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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