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Background: Acute abdomen is an acute onset of abdominal disease entities that require immediate surgical intervention in most of the cases. The numbers of researches done on acute abdomen in general are Very few in Ethiopia. The main objective of this study was to document the burden of acute abdomen in general and the outcome of emergency laparotomy
Methods: This was a retrospective study on surgically treated acute abdomen performed at Gondar University Hospital (GUH) from September 1998 to August 2002
Results: More than 1 in 10 operations done in GUH were for acute abdomen. Nearly a quarter of the operations performed in the study period were laparotomies, 43.3% of which were on emergency bases. Majority of surgically treated acute abdomen patients were from rural areas (58.2%). The sex composition was significantly different by place of residence (X2= 12.74, p=0.0017). Abdominal pain (100%), Vomiting (90.3%), abdominal distension (58.3%) and constipation (55.3%) were the commonest symptoms in patients with acute abdomen.
Conclusion: This study has shown what the commonest symptoms of acute abdomen are and that the outcome of emergency laparotomy may be affected by different factors. Some of these factors were duration of illness, age, presence of peritonitis, Haematocrit level and complication detection time. Since the management is almost the same for almost all causes of surgical acute abdomens, the abovementioned factors should be given due attention in handling such patients. The reasons for low appearance of rural female dwellers to better health care centres need to be investigated.