Abdominal masses or bulges can have a wide variety of causes that are hard to pinpoint by laypeople, and most certainly benefit from medical examination at the patient's earliest convenience. Abdominal masses are often missed by patients and located during medical exams, whether during a routine checkup or in response to other symptoms the patient was experiencing. Hence, when you do find one, you need to take it seriously.
In this day and age, of course, the internet is available right away while your doctor is not, and you would appreciate knowing what could possibly going on.
Before we start, note that the abdomen is divided into four quadrants, with the belly button as its center. You have the right upper quadrant, left upper quadrant, right lower quadrant and left lower quadrant.
Causes Of Upper Abdominal Masses
- Acute cholecystitis, an acute inflammation of the gallbladder, can sometimes be felt in the right upper quadrant and is accompanied by fever, nausea and vomiting, and jaundice. A gallbladder tumor can be felt in the same area.
- Liver cancer, which can lead to a mass in the right upper quadrant, also causes jaundice, easy bruising, a tender and bloated abdomen, and weight loss. An enlarged liver can cause a palpatable mass in the same area.
- A pancreatic abscess can be felt within the upper abdomen, and also leads to pain, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting and a loss of appetite. A pancreatic pseudocyst can cause a mass in the center of the upper abdomen.
In the left upper quadrant, splenomegaly or an enlarged spleen may be the cause of an unexplained mass. This will also cause hiccups and interfere with your ability to eat larger amounts of food.
Causes Of Lower Abdominal Masses
- Bladder distension can lead to a bulge in the lower abdomen, and can itself result from many different medical conditions including bladder cancer. This will also lead to incontinence.
- Diverticulitis, when pouches of the intestinal wall that were already abnormal to begin with become inflamed, can lead to a mass in the left lower quadrant, as well as pain, fever, and bloating.
- Red skin, heavy sweating, an increased heart rate and pale skin may, together with a mass in the lower abdomen, pain, and an enlarged abdomen point to neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.
- In women, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids can be the cause of lower abdominal masses.
Elsewhere In The Abdomen
An abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA, can present as a puslating mass right around the belly button, along with pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, a fast heart rate and even loss of consciousness. This is an immediate emergency situation.
Crohn's disease, bowel cancer, kidney cancer, and a twisting of the intestines are other possible causes of abdominal masses.
This rather long list of possible causes of unexplained masses within the abdomen should make it quite clear that figuring out what is wrong with you isn't just impossible, but you will need to see a doctor even if you do — even if all you have done is misinterpret your indigestion as colon cancer.
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