An abdominal mass is swelling in one part of the belly area (abdomen).
Mass in the abdomen
An abdominal mass is usually found during a routine
Finding where the pain occurs helps the doctor make a diagnosis. For example, the abdomen is usually divided into four areas:
Other terms used to find the location of abdominal pain or masses include:
Epigastric — center of the abdomen just below the rib cage
Periumbilical — area around the bellybutton
The location of the mass and its firmness, texture, and other qualities can provide clues to its cause.
Abdominal aortic aneurysmcan cause a pulsating mass around the navel. Bladder distention(urinary bladder over-filled with fluid) can cause a firm mass in the center of the lower abdomen above the pelvic bones. In extreme cases it can reach as far up as the navel. Cholecystitiscan cause a very tender mass that is felt below the liver in the right-upper quadrant (occasionally). Colon cancercan cause a mass almost anywhere in the abdomen. Crohn’s diseaseor bowel obstruction can cause many tender, sausage-shaped masses anywhere in the abdomen. Diverticulitiscan cause a mass that is usually located in the left-lower quadrant.
- Gallbladder tumor can cause a tender, irregularly shaped mass in the right-upper quadrant.
Hydronephrosis(fluid-filled kidney) can cause a smooth, spongy-feeling mass in one or both sides or toward the back (flank area). Kidney cancercan sometimes cause a mass in the abdomen. Liver cancercan cause a firm, lumpy mass in the right upper quadrant. Liver enlargement(hepatomegaly) can cause a firm, irregular mass below the right rib cage, or on the left side in the stomach area. Neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor, often found in the lower abdomen, that mainly occurs in children and infants. Ovarian cystcan cause a smooth, rounded, rubbery mass above the pelvis in the lower abdomen. Pancreatic abscesscan cause a mass in the upper abdomen in the epigastric area. Pancreatic pseudocystcan cause a lumpy mass in the upper abdomen in the epigastric area. Renal cell carcinomacan cause a smooth, firm, but not tender mass near the kidney (usually only affects one kidney). Spleen enlargement(splenomegaly) can sometimes be felt in the left-upper quadrant. Stomach cancercan cause a mass in the left-upper abdomen in the stomach area (epigastric) if the canceris large.
leiomyoma(fibroids) can cause a round, lumpy mass above the pelvis in the lower abdomen (sometimes can be felt if the fibroids are large). Volvuluscan cause a mass anywhere in the abdomen. Ureteropelvic junction obstructioncan cause a mass in the lower abdomen.
All abdominal masses should be examined as soon as possible by the health care provider.
Changing your body position may help relieve pain due to an abdominal mass.
Call your health care provider if
Seek immediate medical help if you have a pulsating lump in your abdomen along with severe
Contact your doctor if you notice any type of abdominal mass.
What to expect at your health care provider’s office
In nonemergency situations, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history.
In an emergency situation, you will be stabilized first. Then, the doctor will exam your abdomen and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:
- Where is the mass located?
- When did you notice the mass?
- Does it come and go?
- Has the mass changed in size or position? Has it become more or less painful?
- What other symptoms do you have?
A pelvic or rectal examination may be needed in some cases. Tests that may be done to find the cause of an abdominal mass include:
Abdominal CT scan Abdominal ultrasound Abdominal x-ray Angiography Barium enema
- Blood tests such as
CBCand blood chemistry Colonoscopy EGD Isotope study Sigmoidoscopy