Abdominal Masses




Abdominal masses are lumps, swelling or enlargement anywhere in the abdomen; there are more than 200 medical conditions that can lead to forming of abdominal masses. Men, women, as well as kids can develop it.

It is best to see a doctor when one notices something like a lump, swelling, mass or growth in the abdomen, however small it might be as more importantly ASAP.

The earlier we get the condition diagnosed, the sooner we will know what exactly is the problem, and a treatment strategy can be worked out accordingly.

It may not always be a serious condition but the possibility of one cannot be wiped out altogether without assessing the situation and examining the growth and its pattern by a qualified doctor.

When a person notices sudden growth, or swelling in the abdominal area and takes an appointment with the doctor, he should be able to show the doctor the exact location where he feels or sees the mass in abdomen; he should also have a fair recall on when did he first notice it and whether it has grown in size since; he should also know if there has been family history of bowel cancer or inflammation related bowel disorders.

Whether or not the patient feels any pain in the area where the mass is, is also of importance;

1- If he does and throws light on the character of pain, like nature and timing of pain etc, it may be indicative of the underlying problems; and can give a definite direction to the diagnoses.

2- Whether the mass has increased in size steadily over a period of time or has come up suddenly, could be indicative of different medical conditions that will be confirmed only after taking the patient thru ultrasounds, blood tests etc.

3- If the mass has been there in abdomen for an extended length of time and has not troubled or caused any kind of discomfort to the patient, the chances are that the mass could be benign.

However it is important that such growths are brought to the notice of doctor at the earliest and as soon as they are noticed.

If the patient has noticed the lump or swelling in abdominal area along with changes in bowel movement frequency whether it has increased or decreased could again be indicative of various problems that could be as serious as bowel cancer, which may need immediate specialist treatment or something as simple as constipation that can be treated readily with a course of medicine.

Main causes of Abdominal Masses Could be Several

1- The first symptom being several small lumps or masses that develops all the way through the abdomen which is indicative of Crohn’s disease. In this disease person experiences inflammatory bowel condition which can cause acute pain in the abdomen; this condition can also lead to diarrhea; and sometimes the patient also vomits.

2- The next type of mass in called the abdominal aortic aneurysm. The mass bloats and turns into a balloon like swelling in the larger blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdominal area. This condition depending on the stage of diagnoses may also call for an immediate surgery.

3- The mass develops in abdomen even when person is suffering from cancer of the kidney. The doctor can identify the bulge while physically examining the patient. When the case is indicative of Kidney cancer, the patient also experiences intense pain; sudden weight loss; and blood in urine.

4- Another reason for development of abdominal lumps or mass could be presence of cysts in the ovaries. In this situation multiple lumps grow in abdomen which could be of various sizes on each ovary. Symptoms include bleeding when these get ruptured.

5- The protrusions or masses are also likely to get twisted in the ovaries wherein the patient can experience quite some pain. Many women suffering from ovarian cysts also suffer from irregular, painful or no menstruation.

6- If mass develops in the upper right side quadrant of abdomen, it could be indicative of liver cancer. Liver cancer is accompanied with acute stomach pains, jaundice, and a swollen abdomen. Liver becomes very delicate and weal and therefore prone to bruising in liver cancer cases. The person suffering from it loses his inability to eat and digest all types foods because liver starts rejecting them.

7- If mass is diagnosed in pancreas in the form of an abscess, acute pain in the abdomen will be accompanied with inability to eat food; patient will complain of an upset stomach; there will be sudden drop and rise in body temperature; vomiting etc. Pancreatic abscesses are a result of infected pancreatic cysts. On some occasions doctors even suggest surgery to remove dead tissue.

More about Abdominal Mass

Abdominal mass refers to swelling or collection of mass in abdomen area as the name suggests.

The abdominal area or cavity is the internal section between chest and pelvis and is commonly referred to by a layman as the belly.

These masses could be big or small, non-harmful or cancerous; treatable or untreatable.

It rarely shows symptoms and is generally not felt until some examination is performed in the stomach. It has been observed to grow gradually.

But on visiting a doctor it can be confirmed by performing a physical examination lead by a few other more advanced tests to know precise details.

The condition can sometimes lead to a life threatening situation so immediate medical help should be taken. Since causes vary, so do complications, and treatment.

It can result in complete, partial repair or permanent damage of an organ depending upon stage, condition, and treatment of disease.

It can lead to complications from cancer or infection; to gastrointestinal perforation and sepsis; Incontinence; one’s ability to conceive; if reproductive organ has been caused a permanent damage; damaged kidney or liver, or pancreas; ruptured aortic aneurysm.

Abdomen is for medical convenience and convenience of diagnoses, divided into four parts. They are right-upper section; left-upper section; right-lower section; and left-lower section.

When doctor examines the exact location of the mass; along with its firmness; texture; and other peculiar features attached to it, he is able to offer better diagnoses which point to facts and causes that may have lead to the development of such abdominal mass.

Location are also divided in two halves ;

1- First being the Epigastric location, which is at the center of abdomen beneath the rib-cage;

2- Second one is the Periumbilical, which is the area surrounding the navel.

When one suspects a lump or mass in the abdomen; and it gives pain while the patient is lying down or while it gets pressed, then doctor should be consulted immediately.

One should also seek medical help without wasting time, if he is experiencing a pulsating lump in the abdomen with acute abdominal pain.

Because this condition may lead to a possibility of aortic aneurysm that has burst, and if it holds to be true it may call for yet another emergency situation.

Diagnosis of Abdominal Masses

When one visits a doctor suspecting abdominal mass, s/he has to be ready to answer a few common questions to the doc with as much accuracy as he can.

  • Questions like guiding the doctor to the exact location of the mass;
  • The exact time when the patient noticed the mass;
  • Frequency and magnitude of pain;
  • If the patient has noticed the mass to change size or position etc;
  • If patient has any other symptom that s/he may have and shares with the doctor to get a better insight.

After a primary and basic physical examination, doctor may also recommend several other tests and examinations to confirm the final outcome.

Like some cases may call for taking a pelvic or rectal examination. Other tests include angiogram, CT scan, EGD, abdominal ultrasound, barium enema. Colonoscopy, blood tests like CBM etc.

Different tests and examinations are recommended for different conditions.

Sometimes even women who are pregnant develop and are diagnosed with this mass when they go for their routine check ups. Under such conditions, steps should be taken based on doctor’s advice.

Causes for abdominal mass could be several.
  • Tumor
  • Accumulation of fluid
  • Obstruction in the bowel
  • Bacterial or fungal
  • Parasitic infection
  • Abnormal development or growth of organ, or even entrapment of them can lead to development of abdominal masses.
  • Crohn’s disease which does result in developing multiple small masses;

For people suffering from kidney cancer, there are possibilities of a mass developing in the abdomen.

Then a condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm which is a mass that develops into a balloon from the largest blood vessel that carries blood to the abdominal area.

Multiple masses in the abdomen also develop as a result of ovarian cysts. These are small or big r masses that have occurred on each ovary.

Pancreatic abscesses occur from cysts in the infected pancreas. Doctors do recommend surgery to take out the dead tissue. All these causes have different symptoms and treatments also differ.

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