What do doctors look for when they examine the abdomen?

A primary care doctor guides us through the abdominal physical exam.

He deciphers the much-written notation of “Abd: Soft, NT, Normal BS, no HSM or masses*,” and explains what physicians look for when they poke, prod, percuss, and listen to when examining a patient’s belly.

You’d be surprised at some of the things we find simply by pressing on the abdomen.

* For those who need translation, the notation is short for “Abdomen: Soft, non-tender, normal bowel sounds, no hepatosplenomegaly or masses.”