Abdominal mass (patient information)
Abdominal mass On the Web
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An abdominal mass is a swelling in any one part of the abdomen.
What are the symptoms of Abdominal mass?
An abdominal mass is usually found during a routine physical examination, as it develops slowly.
The abdomen is divided into four quadrants:
- Right-upper quadrant
- Left-upper quadrant
- Right-lower quadrant
- Left-lower quadrant
The location of the pain, firmness, texture of the mass helps the physician diagnose the cause.
Other terms used to find the location of abdominal pain or masses include:
- Epigastric -- center of the abdomen just below the rib cage
- Periumbilical -- area around the bellybutton
What causes Abdominal mass?
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause a pulsating mass around the navel.
- Bladder distention (urinary bladder over-filled with fluid) can cause a firm mass in the center of the lower abdomen above the pelvic bones, in extreme cases it can reach as far up as the navel.
- Cholecystitis can cause a very tender mass that is felt below the liver in the right-upper quadrant (occasionally).
- Colon cancer and Volvulus can cause a mass at any location in the abdomen.
- Crohn's disease or bowel obstruction can cause many tender, sausage-shaped masses anywhere in the abdomen.
- Diverticulitis can cause a mass that is usually located in the left-lower quadrant.
- Gallbladder tumor can cause a tender, irregularly shaped mass in the right-upper quadrant.
- Hydronephrosis (fluid-filled kidney) can cause a smooth, spongy-feeling mass in one or both sides or toward the back (flank area).
- Kidney cancer can sometimes cause a mass in the abdomen.
- Liver cancer can cause a firm, lumpy mass in the right upper quadrant.
- Liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) can cause a firm, irregular mass below the right rib cage, or on the left side in the stomach area.
- Neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor, often found in the lower abdomen, that mainly occurs in children and infants.
- Ovarian cyst can cause a smooth, rounded, rubbery mass above the pelvis in the lower abdomen.
- Pancreatic abscess can cause a mass in the upper abdomen in the epigastric area.
- Pancreatic pseudocyst can cause a lumpy mass in the upper abdomen in the epigastric area.
- Renal cell carcinoma can cause a smooth, firm, but not tender mass near the kidney (usually only affects one kidney).
- Spleen enlargement (splenomegaly) can sometimes be felt in the left-upper quadrant.
- Stomach cancer can cause a mass in the left-upper abdomen in the stomach area (epigastric) if the cancer is large.
- Uterine leiomyoma (fibroids) can cause a round, lumpy mass above the pelvis in the lower abdomen (sometimes can be felt if the fibroids are large).
- Ureteropelvic junction obstruction can cause a mass in the lower abdomen.
In nonemergency situations, your physcian will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, and in an emergency situation the patient will be stabilized first.
- Where is the mass located?
- When did you notice the mass?
- Does it come and go?
- Has the mass changed in size or position? Has it become more or less painful?
- What other symptoms do you have?
A pelvic or rectal examination may be needed in some cases. Tests that may be done to find the cause of an abdominal mass include:
- Blood tests such as CBC and blood chemistry
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Abdominal CT scan
When to seek urgent medical care?
Seek immediate medical help if you have a pulsating lump in your abdomen along with severe abdominal pain. This could be a sign of a ruptured aortic aneurysm, which is an emergency condition.
Contact your doctor if you notice any type of abdominal mass.
All abdominal masses should be examined as soon as possible by the health care provider.
Changing your body position may help to relieve pain due to an abdominal mass.