What is an abdominal mass?

An abdominal mass is an abnormal collection of tissue within the abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity is the internal compartment between the chest and pelvis commonly referred to as the belly. Abdominal masses may be large or small, benign or malignant (cancerous), and curable or untreatable. Examples of small benign abdominal masses include hamartomas and cysts, which are solid and fluid-filled collections, respectively, of normal cells. Examples of serious abdominal masses are cancer, abscess, and abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a life-threatening enlargement of the aorta within the abdomen.

A physician may detect abdominal masses on physical examination. Often, one or more imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or a CAT scan (also known as CT scan or CT), may be required in order to further define the mass. A definitive diagnosis may require a surgical biopsy, in which a piece of the mass is removed for examination under a microscope by a pathologist.

Some abdominal masses, such as simple cysts, require no treatment at all. Others, such as colon cancer, may require extensive treatment with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. The prognosis of an abdominal mass depends on its diagnosis.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have an abdominal mass that is pulsing (like a heartbeat) with or without severe abdominal pain.

If you have any abdominal mass, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with an abdominal mass?

An abdominal mass may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with an abdominal mass

Abdominal masses may accompany other symptoms including:


What causes an abdominal mass?

Abdominal masses can be caused by a wide variety of conditions and diseases. An accumulation of new tissue (a tumor), fluid, a bowel obstruction, bacterial infection, fungal infection, parasitic infection, expansion of an organ, or entrapment of an organ can all cause abdominal masses.

Because the causes, treatments, and complications vary so widely, it is very important to have a... Read more about abdominal masscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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