Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Disorders

In primary care settings, patients often present with abdominal pain. Although this is frequently a sign of a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, abdominal pain could also be the result of other systemic disorders, making this type of pain difficult to assess. While abdominal pain is most common, many other GI symptoms also overlap multiple disorders, further increasing the difficulty in diagnosing and treating patients. This makes provider-patient communication essential. You must be able to formulate questions that will prompt the patient to provide the necessary information, as this will guide your assessment and diagnosis. For this Discussion, consider potential diagnoses for the patient in the following case study.

Case Study 2:
A 40 year-old female presents to the office with the chief complaint of diarrhea. She has been having recurrent episodes of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. She has lost 9 pounds in the last month. She takes no medications, but is allergic to penicillin. She describes her life as stressful, but manageable. The physical exam reveals a pale middle- aged female in no acute distress. Her weight is 140 pounds (down from 154 at her last visit over a year ago), blood pressure of 94/60 sitting and 86/50 standing, heart rate of 96 and regular without postural changes, respiratory rate of 18, and O2 saturation 99%. Further physical examination reveals:
Skin: w/d, no acute lesions or rashes
Eyes: sclera clear, conj pale
Ears: no acute changes
Nose: no erythema or sinus tenderness
Mouth: membranes pale, some slight painful ulcerations, right buccal mucosa, tongue beefy red, teeth good repair
Neck: supple, no thyroid enlargement or tenderness, no lymphadenopathy
Cardio: S1 S2 regular, no S3 S4 or murmur
Lungs: CTA w/o rales, wheezes, or rhonchi
Abdomen: scaphoid, BS hyperactive, generalized tenderness, rectal +occult blood

To prepare:
Review this week’s media presentations and Part 12 of the Buttaro et al. text in the Learning Resources.
Reflect on the provided patient information including history and physical exams.
Think about a differential diagnosis. Consider the role the patient history and physical exam played in diagnosis.
Reflect on potential treatment options based on your diagnosis.

Using current resources less than five years old, write an explanation of the differential diagnosis for the patient in the case study. Describe the role the patient history and physical exam played in the diagnosis. Then, suggest potential treatment options based on your patient diagnosis.

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