Diagnosis of Abdominal Masses
Your child’s pediatrician will perform a complete physical exam, which will include feeling your child’s abdomen for swelling. They will also ask about your child’s personal and family medical history. From there, they may refer your child to a surgeon, another specialist or the emergency department for one or more of the following tests to diagnose an abdominal mass:
- Blood test. Samples of your child’s blood may show signs of infection, genetic disorders and other conditions.
- Colonoscopy. During this exam, the doctor inserts a thin tube with a camera on the end into your child’s rectum. Your child is under sedation (asleep) during the procedure. The camera captures detailed images of the inside of your child’s colon.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. This test uses specialized X-ray technology. It creates detailed images of the inside of your child’s abdomen, pelvic area and other structures.
- Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to create detailed images of your child’s abdomen and other structures.
- X-ray. This test uses radiation to create detailed images of the inside of your child’s abdomen, including organs and other structures.
Treatments for Abdominal Masses
If your child has an abdominal mass, treatment will depend on if the mass is cancerous or non-noncancerous. Your child’s doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Chemotherapy. If your child’s abdominal mass is cancerous, they may need to undergo chemotherapy to destroy the cancer. Chemotherapy involves taking specialized cancer-fighting medicines. Sometimes, chemotherapy is performed before surgical removal of the mass.
- Medications. Your child may need to take medication for an underlying condition that has caused the abdominal mass. Some children need to take hormone-replacing medication. While taking the medication, your child will need to regularly see their doctor to ensure the medicine is working as expected.
- Radiation therapy. If your child’s abdominal mass is cancerous, they may need to undergo radiation therapy to destroy the cancer. Your child will undergo radiation therapy in an outpatient or hospital cancer center. Sometimes, radiation therapy is performed before surgical removal of the mass.
- Surgery. Your child may need to undergo surgery under general anesthesia (fully asleep) to remove the abdominal mass. During the procedure, your child’s surgeon will use a minimally invasive approach with a camera and small incisions (cuts), or they may make a larger incision for open surgery. Depending on your child’s condition, they may need to spend one or more nights in the hospital following the surgery for close monitoring. Your child’s care team will provide you with specific, detailed post-surgical instructions, including how long your child should rest and when they can return to school.