Scaphoid abdomen

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 08 Apr 2022

Scaphoid abdomen is the term given to an inward concavity of the anterior abdominal wall. It is used both for the clinical appearance and its radiological equivalent. 

In children it maybe a sign of congenital diaphragmatic hernia. In both adult and pediatric patients, it raises the possibility of malnutrition.


In congenital diaphragmatic hernia, the movement of abdominal organs into the thorax means reduced abdominal contents and therefore a sunken appearance to the abdomen. 

In malnutrition states, the absence of visceral and abdominal fat and muscle bulk results in a sunken abdomen. 


If there is no history of diaphragmatic hernia, then usually it is due to malnutrition from whatever cause.

Radiographic features

Typical sunken or concave appearance of the anterior abdominal wall on cross-sectional imaging.

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