It is particularly important when examining the abdomen that the patient is comfortable, warm and as relaxed as possible The examiner needs to have warm clean hands with well trimmed fingernails and needs to be gentle in all manoeuvres. The correct positioning of the patient for the examination is important, generally one small pillow beneath the head is satisfactory to stop unwanted contraction of the abdominal muscles. The contraction may inhibit adequate examination of the viscera. Apart from the artificial examination situation, the abdominal examination is not usually undertaken in isolation. It generally will form part of the general examination with a full past history and targetted presenting symptoms having been obtained already.
Particular note will have been taken of whether the patient appears to be sick, whether abnormally pale or pigmented. The state of nutrition and hydration should be chceked too.