Recognising and assessing blunt abdominal trauma
Intended for healthcare professionals
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Recognising and assessing blunt abdominal trauma

Anthony McGrath Head of department, adult nursing and midwifery studies, London South Bank University
Dean Whiting Senior lecturer in critical care, University of Bedfordshire

Anthony McGrath and Dean Whiting discuss the anatomy and physiology of the abdominal cavity, and the management of patients who have sustained major traumatic injuries

Blunt abdominal trauma is common following major traumatic injury but may not be recognised quickly enough and is therefore a cause of preventable death in trauma patients. Emergency department nurses have a major role to play in reducing the incidence of unrecognised abdominal trauma by enhancing their knowledge and skills. They can do this by attending trauma-related courses, taking on more expanded roles, carrying out full and comprehensive physical assessments, and ensuring that members of the multidisciplinary team use the wide range of diagnostic adjuncts available to them. This article reviews the anatomy and physiology of the abdominal cavity, explains abdominal trauma, gives an overview of advanced abdominal assessment techniques and diagnostic adjuncts, and reviews some management strategies for uncontrolled haemorrhage that have been adopted in the UK.

Emergency Nurse. 22, 10, 18-24. doi: 10.7748/en.22.10.18.e1377


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 07 October 2014

Accepted: 09 February 2015

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