Abdominal Injuries

Abdominal pain refers to cramps, a dull ache, or a sharp, burning or twisting pain in the belly (abdomen). Abdominal pain is also called stomach, belly, gut or tummy ache.

The abdomen holds major organs such as the stomach, large and small bowel, appendix, gall bladder, spleen, kidneys and pancreas. The body’s largest artery and largest vein also sit in the abdomen.

These types of injuries can be caused by either a blunt (e.g., driver into steering wheel) or penetrating (e.g., stabbing) injury. The most important indicator of a potentially serious injury is the history.

Recognition of Abdominal Injuries

  • Pain at the site of the injury and guarding of the injury site.
  • Blood loss, either internal/external (look for signs of shock)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Onset of shock
  • Pale, cold and/or clammy skin
  • Blood in the urine and/or faeces
  • Possible exposed intestines
  • Swelling (internal bleeding)
  • Possible protruding intestines

Management of Abdominal Injuries

  • D.R.S.A.B.C.D.
  • Reassure the casualty and keep warm using blankets but DO NOT overheat
  • Lie the casualty on their back with their head and shoulders slightly raised in a supported position and their knees slightly bent.
  • Control the bleeding where possible.
  • Cover any protruding intestines with either a non-stick or wet sterile dressing. Use clean plastic wrap if nothing else is available. DO NOT use a dry dressing as it will stick to the intestines or organs.
  • Complete the secondary survey and treat any subsequent injuries.
  • Monitor the casualty’s signs of life.
  • DO NOT give the casualty any food or drink.