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May 1957

Postoperative Abdominal Muscle Spasm

Author Affiliations

Santa Barbara, Calif.
From the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

AMA Arch Surg. 1957;74(5):804-808. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280110146020

Every laparotomy is followed by several days of discomfort, but postoperative pain varies greatly among patients. Such discomfort may include (1) ordinary abdominal wall pain due to cutting and retraction of nerves and muscles; (2) distention of the gastrointestinal tract because of ileus, an almost invariable accompaniment of intraabdominal surgery, and (3) pain due to some internal postoperative complication or disease, such as bleeding, infection, or drainage. The purpose of this paper is to center attention on the problems associated with exaggerated parietal wall pain.

Description of Entity  A survey of the surgical literature has failed to reveal any specific description of postoperative abdominal muscle spasm. The condition is not that of the ordinary painful wound, but one characterized by agonizing spasms, usually in the rectus muscle. Initiated by bodily movements or reflex abdominal muscle contractions, these are of short duration, commonly lasting from a few seconds up to perhaps

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