Human Anatomy – Abdomen
- Human Anatomy – Tonsils
- Human Anatomy – Teeth
- Human Anatomy – Stomach
- Human Anatomy – Tongue
- Human Anatomy – Esophagus
- Human Anatomy – Liver
- Human Anatomy – Gallbladder
- Human Anatomy – Spleen
- Human Anatomy – Pancreas
- Human Anatomy – Appendix
- Human Anatomy – Intestines
- Human Anatomy – Colon
- Human Anatomy – Abdomen
- Human Anatomy – Penis
- Human Anatomy – Bladder
- Human Anatomy – Kidneys
- Human Anatomy – Prostate
- Human Anatomy – Vagina
- Human Anatomy – Heart
- Human Anatomy – Skin
- Human Anatomy – Aorta
- Human Anatomy – Thyroid
- Human Anatomy – Lungs
- Human Anatomy – Brain
- Human Anatomy – Eyes
- Human Anatomy – Ears
- Human Anatomy – Sinuses
- Human Anatomy – Trachea
- Human Anatomy – Blood
- Human Anatomy – Rotator Cuff
- Human Anatomy – Shoulder
- Human Anatomy – Feet
- Human Anatomy – Hair
- Human Anatomy – Achilles Tendon
Known also as the belly, the abdomen refers to the space between the chest (thorax) and the pelvis. It holds the kidneys and spleen as well as the entire digestive system, which includes the colon, small intestine, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and stomach. Special abdominal tissues called mesentery loosely keep these organs together, leaving just enough space for them to expand.
Besides skin, the abdomen is protected in the front by a thin crust of tissue known as the fascia. The flipside of the abdomen is covered with back muscles.
Several vital blood vessels ply through the abdomen, such as the aorta and the inferior vena cava.
Abdomen conditions and diseases
At times, the abdomen may protrude due to an upsurge of fluids therein, a condition called ascites. Similarly, the abdomen may swell (abdominal distension) because of an increase of gas in the intestines.
These and other abdominal complaints are likely to be signs of many underlying conditions, because the abdomen holds a plethora of organs. For example, peritonitis, known as inflammation of the peritoneum or “acute abdomen,” is usually due to an infected or ruptured organ in the abdomen.
Here are some abdominal diseases and conditions:
- Hepatitis. Liver inflammation, often caused by viruses, certain medicines and a weak immune system
- Cirrhosis. Due to chronic inflammation caused by alcoholism and chronic hepatitis, the liver gets scarred.
- Pancreatitis. Pancrea inflammation. Alcohol and gallstones usually cause this condition.
- Peptic ulcer disease. High acidity in the stomach or duodenum (a part of the small intestine) causes erosions or ulcers in the linings of these organs. Causes include a Helicobacter pylori infection or reaction to anti-inflammatory drugs, e.g. ibuprofen.
- Appendicitis. Appendix, an organ in the lower large intestine, gets inflamed. Surgical removal is usually recommended for an inflamed appendix.
- Gastritis. Stomach inflammation, oft-caused by alcohol, NSAIDs and bacterial infection
- Cholecystitis. Gallbladder inflammation, caused by a gallstone obstructing a gallbladder duct
- Aortic aneurysm. Occurs when the wall of the aorta in the abdomen weakens. The aorta then expands like a balloon over the years until it bursts.
- Abdominal hernia. Weakening of the fascia
- Dyspepsia. Another term for a stomach upset/indigestion
- Intestinal obstruction. One part or the entire small/large intestine ceases to function. Abdominal distension and vomiting ensues.
- Gastroparesis. Due to debilitating diseases like diabetes and cancer, the stomach empties at a slower pace than usual, causing vomiting and nausea.
Treating abdomen conditions
Abdominal surgery is always indicated for severe conditions such as colon/stomach cancer, appendicitis, aneurysm and cholecystitis. The surgeon may either choose an open or laparoscopic surgery according to the patient’s case.
To treat an overly acid stomach, a doctor prescribes H2 blockers to keep histamine in the body from compelling acid production. In the same way, proton pump inhibitors can hinder the acid-secreting pumps of the stomach.
Other abdomen treatments:
- Antibiotics. Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium notorious for causing many abdominal illnesses, can be successfully countered by prescription antibiotics.
- Motility agents. Gastroparesis and constipation, which are caused by decreased stomach contraction, can be treated with these drugs.
- Laxatives. Used to treat constipation
Tests for abdomen conditions
Some abdominal conditions are discernible enough without the use of machines. A doctor can just “listen” to your body with a simple tap of the abdomen or a press of the stethoscope.
To be sure, the doctor would use tests like an abdominal ultrasound to get detailed images of the abdominal organ in question. If you want to rectify an abdominal condition, resuming a healthy lifestyle thereafter, consider taking these and other abdomen tests:
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Used to detect problems in the pancreas. With an endoscope, a doctor puts a tube into a pancreatic duct and squirts a fluid that deflects X-rays.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Also known as upper endoscopy, this test entails the insertion of an endoscope through the mouth. With a camera on its tip, the endoscope lets the doctor see the stomach and the first parts of the small intestine at magnified range.
- Colonoscopy. Also known as lower endoscopy, this test differs from above in that the endoscope enters the body through the anus, not the mouth. It is mainly used to provide magnified images of the colon and other organs in the lower abdomen.
- pH tests. Monitors acidity in the esophagus. Done by inserting a tube into the nose
- Gastric emptying study. Tests how fast food comes down the stomach. The food is immersed in a radioactive substance, allowing it to “shine” through in the scanner.
- Computed tomography (CT scan). A computer and an X-ray machine work together to provide detailed photos of the abdominal organs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan). Uses radio waves to provide high-resolution pictures of the abdominal organs, especially the pancreas, liver and gallbladder