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Digestive Disorders

Dull pain in upper right abdomen

09/05/2001

Question:

My 59 year old mother has been having persistent dull pain under her lowest right rib. Doctors have done an x-ray, ultrasound and various standard blood tests for her liver, gall bladder and appendix, but they say everything is coming back normal. One doctor prescribed Vicodin, and another prescribed Prevacid, but both seem to address the symptoms and not the actual problem. Could you please suggest some other things that we can ask the doctors to test or check for? The swelling and pain in that area are getting unbearable. Thanks!

Answer:

Pain in the right upper abdomen under the ribs is usually due to a problem with the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts. In most instances an ultrasound and liver blood tests should detect any problems with these organs. Other less common sources of pain in this area include stomach or duodenal ulcers and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas, a gland that lies near the stomach). Considering your mother`s age she should probably have further testing to exclude these other disorders.

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Response by:

John D Long, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati