What are the essential elements of a physical exam for small-bowel obstruction (SBO) used to identify possible causes as well as exclude causes from the differential diagnosis?

Updated: Apr 28, 2017
  • Author: Mityanand Ramnarine, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
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Physical examination can help exclude incarcerated umbilical, inguinal, femoral triangle, and obturator foramina hernias. Proper abdominal, genitourinary, and pelvic examinations are essential in identifying possible causes of incarceration as well as helping to exclude causes from the differential diagnosis. Look for the following features during rectal examination:

  • Gross or occult blood, which suggests late strangulation or malignancy

  • Masses, which suggest obturator hernia

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