An abdominal mass may be a neoplasm or a hernia. An abdominal hernia is a protrusion from the peritoneal cavity into which peritoneal contents are extruded. The contents may be omen-tum, intestine, or bladder wall. An abdominal hernia may be inguinal, femoral, umbilical, or internal, depending on its location. The most common complaint is swelling, which may or may not be painful. An inguinal hernia may manifest as a mass in the groin or scrotum. The major complications of a hernia are intestinal obstruction and intestinal strangulation from interference of blood supply. A hernia is termed reducible when it can be emptied of its contents by pressure or a change in posture.
The sign or symptom of a pulsatile abdominal mass should alert the examiner to the possibility of an aortic aneurysm.
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