Abdominal Mass

What is an abdominal mass?

An abdominal mass is an abnormal abdominal growth accompanied by an obvious protrusion that can alter the shape of the abdomen. It can be mobile, stable, hard or even soft. It is common for one who has an abdominal mass to gain weight as well as experience bloating, pains and discomfort in the abdomen.

The abdomen is anatomically divided into four sections (quadrants) and the location of the mass in any of these locations determines the description of the mass. These four sections are the right upper quadrant, left upper quadrant, right lower quadrant and left lower quadrant.

 

Causes of an abdominal mass

A benign tumor, injuries, cyst, cancer, or other diseases can cause an abdominal lump.

Cyst: it is an abnormal fluid-filled mass in the abdomen. This mass can also be filled with infected matter.

Cysts that readily induce the formation of an abdominal mass are ovarian cysts, cholecystitis — often caused by gallstones (abnormal mass of hardened digestive fluid) that block the tube leading out of the gallbladder, causing gallbladder inflammation.

Cancer: cancers of the liver, stomach, and kidney can promote mass formation in the abdomen

Diseases: the following diseases can enhance abdominal mass formation;

Pancreatic abscess: It is a pus-filled cavity right in the pancreas.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA:  AAA is the enlargement and protrusion of the abdominal aorta (large blood vessel supplying blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs, in that order).

Hydronephrosis:  It is a condition where the kidneys are enlarged due to the accumulation of urine.

Diverticulitis: It is the inflammation diverticula. Diverticula are common pouches that are formed in weak regions of the colon and intestines.

Splenic and liver enlargement

Crohn’s disease: It is an inflammatory intestinal disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract.

 

Abdominal mass

Photo Credit: ResearchGate

 

Signs of an abdominal mass

Abdominal pains, weight gain, fever, a protrusion in the affected areas, feelings of fullness in abdominal, nausea and vomiting, inability to urinate, difficulty in passing stool etc.

 

Diagnosing an abdominal mass

Upon a visit to a doctor, your history will be taken. History is simply asking you certain questions in order to have an idea of what the problem might be. At the end of this, the doctor will be able to know the mass location. Knowledge of the mass location and the affected structures will guide the doctor on how to go about treating you.

Physical examination: While you lie on an examining table, the doctor gently presses his hand on different parts of your abdomen. By so doing, the location of the mass can be determined.

Imaging tests:  They are abdominal X-ray, abdominal ultrasound and abdominal computed axial tomography (CAT) scan. These tests can help determine the mass size, location and what type it is.

Colonoscopy: This is resorted to when the results obtained from all of those images. This process involves the closer examination of the digestive system by inserting a small tube-like microscope into the colon.

Complete blood count: It is a kind of blood test that assesses the integrity of all the blood types in the body. This test can help the doctor ascertain the presence or absence of an infection.

Transvaginal ultrasound: This is especially needful for women with ovarian cysts. In this procedure, a probe is inserted into the ovaries and uterus for a better view of them.

 

Treating abdominal masses

The treatment is based on its cause. Treatment may then come in surgery, medication, or specialized care as the case presents. Hormonal medication will be to correct masses caused by hormonal anomalies e.g. ovarian cyst. Surgery will be adopted in eliminating the mass particular when it has become life-threatening e.g. cysts and tumor cases. Cancerous abdominal masses can also be shrunk using radiation therapy or chemotherapy until the size is small enough for surgical removal.

 

Prognosis

Abdominal masses can actually squeeze the life out of abdominal organs. This is an expressway to damage the organ. Damaged parts must be removed so healthy parts will not be affected. The more the masses found out, the more different means might be employed to fix the situation.

It has been found out that masses that are cancerous may resurface after a treatment.

A woman can have polycystic ovary syndrome and this, in turn, may initiate the formation of multiple ovarian cysts every month. Surgery might be needed to remove them when they become life-threatening.

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