Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen in Rhyme

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 18 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b632
  1. Jacob F de Wolff, ST3 trainee in acute medicine, Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield, Middlesex
  1. jfdwolff{at}

    Many a junior doctor has requested an opinion from a surgical registrar on a patient with a suspected acute abdominal disorder. The invariable reply is: “Get an abdominal x ray and a blood gas, and I’ll come and put a hand on their tummy.”

    The author of this little work, written entirely in rhyme, would have disapproved. It first appeared in 1947. In those days preceding abdominal computed tomography he lamented: “We culture this, we plant out that with care / And on the places with hope we daily stare / We test the blood for complement-fixation …

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