Epigastric pain is frequent in Emergency Medicine and remains a challenging situation. Besides benign etiologies such as gastritis or uncomplicated cholelithiasis, it could reveal myocardial infarction or vascular disease. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) could be performed in such situation.
A healthy 66-year-old man with no previous medical history was admitted to the Emergency Department for a rapid onset epigastric pain. He reported taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for 1 week prior to admission. His pain had rapidly subsided and the physical examination was inconclusive. ECG and blood samples were normal. POCUS revealed a vascular mass located between the spleen and the left kidney measuring 80 * 74 mm associated with small amounts of free peritoneal fluid. Computed tomography diagnosed a fissurated giant aneurysm of the splenic artery. The aneurysm was managed emergently by endovascular exclusion by selective splenic artery embolization. The post-intervention course was uneventful and the patient was discharged home 3 days later. The patient has remained free from any complications of the embolization 6 months after the procedure.
Spontaneously regressive epigastric pain with a normal physical and biology/ECG should not necessarily reassure the physician, in particular if patients have cardiovascular risk factors. A POCUS should be considered for these patients.