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May 1968

Exploratory Laparotomy for Abdominal Pain of Unknown Etiology: Diagnosis, Management, and Follow-Up of 40 Cases

Author Affiliations

Fontana, Calif
From the Surgical Service, Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Fontana, Calif.

Arch Surg. 1968;96(5):836-839. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1968.01330230144022

THE PATIENT who presents with persistent abdominal pain and who undergoes extensive evaluation unproductive of a diagnosis is the subject of this study. The type of patient, the preoperative evaluation, the operative findings, and the postoperative course were analyzed in an effort to determine the indications and value of laparotomy in diagnosing abdominal pain of obscure etiology. This study is unique in that there are no current reports dealing with this problem despite the consternation that it provokes among responsible physicians.

Methods and Materials  A retrospective study was made of 40 unselected cases operated on between 1955 and 1965 at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Fontana, Calif. The criteria for inclusion in the study series were a primary diagnosis of nonacute unexplained abdominal pain and inability to implicate any one organ system by history, physical examination, or laboratory or radiographic studies. The patients were followed up postoperatively for at least one

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