Abdominal Pathophysiology Diagnostics and Assessment

Abdominal Pathophysiology Diagnostics and Assessment 

The abdomen is a large area of the body containing many of the vital organs. Complaints in this region of the body can seem vague and random. However, they can be clues to life-threatening illnesses. This course will discuss how to perform a thorough abdominal assessment to determine appropriate follow-up for your patient’s symptoms. You will review the organs located in each quadrant of the abdomen and the purpose and function of each. Course content will also discuss the importance of taking a complete patient history to include or dismiss many common differential diagnoses.


Hours: 1.50


Certificates provided by accrediting body (2 Match)

American Nurses Credentialing Center


In support of improving patient care, Relias LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

California Board of Registered Nursing


Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, CEP# 13791

Nurses will receive 1.50 contact hours for participating in this course.

Course Details

Course Code: REL-CHC-0-APDA
Hours: 1.5
Type: Online Course
Content Expiration Date: 9/30/2022
Learning Objectives:
Describe the steps taken to complete a thorough abdominal exam.
Describe the most common causes of abdominal pain.
Differentiate between acute and non-acute abdominal symptoms.

Section 1: Introduction

About This Course

Learning Objectives

Section 2: The Basics of Abdominal Assessment

Sam’s Chief Complaint

Abdominal Exam: Gathering the Supplies and Taking a Good History

Interviewing the Patient: Duration and Timing, Factors, and Location of Symptoms

Interviewing the Patient: Associated Symptoms and Past Medical History

Interviewing the Patient: Medications, Contraception, and Social Habits

Sensitive Subject Matter

Details Matter

Maintaining Privacy for the Patient



Section 3: Starting Your Exam: Inspection and Visualization

Appearance of the Abdomen: Contour and Symmetry

The Skin Surface

Pulsations, Movement, and Distension



Section 4: Auscultation, Percussion, and Palpation

Navigating the Abdomen

Bowel Sounds

Bruits, Hums, and Rubs

Percussion: The Basics

Normal Sounds of Percussion

Knowledge Check

The Liver

The Spleen

The Kidneys and the Aorta

The Lower Abdomen

Do I Need this Skill?

Positioning the Patient for Palpation

Other Considerations: Lymph Nodes, Age, and Medical Conditions



Section 5: Abdominal Pain, Diagnostic Testing, and the Abdominal Organs

Abdominal Pain and Diagnostic Testing

Assessing the Left Upper Quadrant

Assessing the Right Upper Quadrant

The Lower Abdomen

Assessing the Left Lower Quadrant of the Abdomen

Assessing the Right Lower Quadrant of the Abdomen

Common Causes of Pain in the Right Lower Quadrant of the Abdomen

Knowledge Check

Less Common Causes of Abdominal Pain

Acute and Non-Acute Abdominal Symptoms



Section 6: Conclusion


Course Contributors




Instructor: Elizabeth Kellerman, MSN, RN
Elizabeth Kellerman MSN, RN started in nursing in 2007 after graduating from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, California. While working in a critical care unit at Sutter Mills-Peninsula Hospital she earned her CCRN and TNCC. Her experience and knowledge led her to nursing education where she taught at a community college while working to receive her Master's in Nurse Education at Western Carolina University. As a nursing instructor, she spent time in many types of care settings including medical-surgical inpatient and community living centers. Her passion for education and training has most recently led her to a position as subject matter expert and content writer for Relias. Disclosure: Elizabeth Kellerman, MSN, RN has declared that no conflict of interest, Relevant Financial Relationship or Relevant Non-Financial Relationship exists.
Staff Writer: Kimberly Cobb, M.S.
Mrs. Cobb is a Content Writer for Public Safety and Health and Human Services at Relias. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Correctional and Juvenile Justice Studies and a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. Mrs. Cobb has 24 years of experience working in criminal and juvenile justice. She has worked in direct service positions as well as in research, training, and technical assistance capacities. She was the statewide evaluator for the Commonwealth of Kentucky for adult, juvenile, and family drug courts; a Research Associate for the American Probation & Parole Association providing training and technical assistance to Native American Nations/Alaska Native Villages on systemic criminal and juvenile justice initiatives; and a Research Administrator for the University of Kentucky managing federal, state, and foundation grants awarded to the College of Medicine, Behavioral Science department, Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, and Kentucky Rural Medical Centers.


Disclosure: Kimberly Cobb, M.S. has declared that no conflict of interest, Relevant Financial Relationship or Relevant Non-Financial Relationship exists.
Target Audience:
The target audience for this course is: Nurses; in the following settings: Health and Human Services.
Relias will be transparent in disclosing if any commercial support, sponsorship or co-providership is present prior to the learner completing the course.
Course Delivery Method and Format
Asynchronous/Online Distance Learning; please see certificate details for specifics on delivery format.
Relias has a grievance policy in place to facilitate reports of dissatisfaction. Relias will make every effort to resolve each grievance in a mutually satisfactory manner. In order to report a complaint or grievance please contact Relias.
If you require special accommodations to complete this module, please contact Relias Support by completing the web form (https://www.relias.com/help) or by using the chat functionality.
All courses offered by Relias, LLC are developed from a foundation of diversity, inclusiveness, and a multicultural perspective. Knowledge, values and awareness related to cultural competency are infused throughout the course content.
Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer or otherwise does not constitute or imply any endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of, or affiliation with, Relias, LLC.
All characteristics and organizations referenced in the following training are fictional. Any resemblance to any actual organizations or persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.
To earn continuing education credit for this course you must achieve a passing score of 80% on the post-test and complete the course evaluation.
If you require special accommodations to complete this module, please contact Relias Customer Support here.