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An adolescent with acute abdominal pain and bowel wall thickening
  1. Giorgio Cozzi1,
  2. Lorenzo Calligaris1,
  3. Claudio Germani1,
  4. Daniela Sanabor2,
  5. Egidio Barbi1
  1. 1Emergency Department, Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Giorgio Cozzi, Emergency Department, Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Via dell'Istria 65/1, 34137 Trieste, Italy; giorgiocozzi{at}


A 15-year-old girl was admitted with acute crampy abdominal pain and repeated vomiting over the preceding 2 hours; no fever, diarrhoea or abdominal trauma was reported. She had started oestrogen–progestin contraception 3 months ago. She had sought medical advice twice in the previous weeks for self-limiting episodes of right hand swelling, without urticaria. On examination, she was unwell and in pain, with severe tenderness in the right lower quadrant, without guarding or rebound tenderness. Bowel sounds were diminished. Blood tests were unremarkable. Two hours after admission, an abdominal ultrasound scanning showed an impressive wall thickening (>1 cm) of the terminal ileum, caecum and ascending colon (figure 1). Abundant free intraperitoneal fluids in the pelvis and in the hepatorenal recess were present.

Figure 1

Marked caecal wall thickening evidenced at the ultrasound scanning.


  1. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis in this patient?

    1. Ileocolic intussusception

    2. Gastrointestinal manifestation of Henoch-Schönlein purpura

    3. Abdominal attack of hereditary angioedema (HAE)

    4. Acute pancreatitis

  2. Which of the following blood tests may help to confirm the diagnosis?

    1. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

    2. C4

    3. Serum amylase: 36 IU/L

    4. C1-inhibitor

  3. How should this patient be evaluated and treated?

    Answers are on page ▪▪▪.

  • adolescent
  • abdominal pain
  • angioedema

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.