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Chest Pain (cont.)

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Referred abdominal pain

Conditions in the abdomen can present as pain referred to the chest, especially if there is inflammation along the diaphragm. Inflammation of the stomach, spleen, liver, or gallbladder can initially present with nonspecific pain complaints that may be associated with vague chest discomfort. Physical examination and time to allow the disease process to express itself often allow the appropriate diagnosis to be made. It is also the reason that the whole body is examined, even if the initial complaint is chest pain.

  • Similarly, conditions in the chest may initially present as abdominal pain.
  • Myocardial infarction of the inferior or lower portion of the heart can present as indigestion.
  • Pneumonia can present as upper abdominal pain, especially if the lung inflammation is next to the diaphragm.
  • Aortic dissection can present with chest pain, abdominal pain, or both, depending upon where the dissection occurs.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2017


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