an abdominal mass is nothing more than a symptom. if you must do the pathophysiology on the admitting diagnosis then i would approach it from the view of doing first the normal anatomy and structures in the abdomen and then doing a focus on the potential reasons for a mass to be present and the causes of each of those masses. this, i believe, would be differential diagnosis. my book on physical examination, textbook of physical diagnosis, history and examination
, 3rd edition, by mark h. swartz has this to say about abdominal masses on page 362: "an abdominal mass may be a neoplasm or a hernia. an abdominal hernia
refers to a protrusion from the peritoneal cavity into which peritoneal contents are extruded. the contents may be omentum, intestine, or bladder wall. an abdominal hernia may be inguinal, femoral, umbilical, or internal, depending on its location. the most common complaint is swelling, which may or may not be painful. an inguinal hernia may manifest as a mass in the groin or scrotum. the major complications of a hernia are intestinal obstruction and intestinal strangulation from interference of blood supply. a hernia is termed reducible
when it can be emptied of its contents by pressure or a change in posture. a symptom of a pulsatile abdominal mass should alert the examiner to the possibility of an aortic aneurysm."
i would check out some of the medical school physical assessment sites that are listed on this thread:
- health assessment resources, techniques, and forms (in nursing student assistance forum)
there are several of them that have some information in the abdominal assessment that might be helpful for you. a hernia is usually going to be determined through physical exam more so that an x-ray. a neoplasm is going to need x-rays and labwork.
these sites at family practice notebook include tests to be ordered to diagnose. you can also do a search for each of the various hernias and tumors to get signs and symptoms:
- inguinal hernia
- serum tumor markers (lab tests when ruling out cancer)
- serum acid phosphatase
- serum cancer antigen-125