To investigate the demographic and clinical factors of children who present to the pediatric emergency department (ED) with abdominal pain and their outcomes.


A review of the electronic medical record of patients 1 to 18 years old, who presented to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ED with a complaint of abdominal pain over the course of 2 years, was conducted. Demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as visit outcomes, were reviewed. Subjects were grouped by age, race, and gender. Results of evaluation, treatment, and clinical outcomes were compared between groups by using multivariate analysis and recursive partitioning.


There were 9424 patient visits during the study period that met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Female gender comprised 61% of African American children compared with 52% of white children. Insurance was characterized as private for 75% of white and 37% of African American children. A diagnosis of appendicitis was present in 1.9% of African American children and 5.1% of white children. Older children were more likely to be admitted and have an operation associated with their ED visit. Appendicitis was uncommon in younger children. Constipation was commonly diagnosed. Multivariate analysis by diagnosis as well as recursive partitioning analysis did not reflect any racial differences in evaluation, treatment, or outcome.


Constipation is the most common diagnosis in children presenting with abdominal pain. Our data demonstrate that no racial differences exist in the evaluation, treatment, and disposition of children with abdominal pain.

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