NCLEX : Identifying Gastrointestinal Conditions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for NCLEX

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Gastrointestinal Conditions

Full-thickness (transmural) ulceration of the bowel wall occurs in what condition?

Possible Answers:

Irritable bowel syndrome

Celiac disease

Ulcerative colitis

Crohn's disease

Correct answer:

Crohn's disease

Explanation:

Full-thickness (transmural) ulceration of the bowel wall occurs in Crohn's disease. Bowels may also show thickened walls, serosal adhesions, and loss of the regular folds.

In ulcerative colitis, ulceration is restricted to the gut mucosa. Celiac disease results in blunting of intestinal villi, but does not cause ulceration in any form. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is considered a functional disease as it results in no known pathological tissue changes.

Example Question #11 : Identifying Gastrointestinal Conditions

Janelle is a 56 year old woman who is three days post total abdominal hysterectomy. She has not passed gas or had a bowel movement since before surgery. The patient starts vomiting dark brown material. The nurse should be sure to do which of the following? 

Possible Answers:

Have the patient lay on her left side. 

Report the finding to the next shift.

Auscultate for bowel sounds.

Administer anti-emetics.

Place a cool washcloth on the patient's forehead.

Correct answer:

Auscultate for bowel sounds.

Explanation:

The patient is displaying symptoms that could indicate a paralytic ileus. A paralytic ileus is a blockage of the intestine that may result after surgery, most commonly abdominal surgery. During an ileus, the intestine cannot move food through the bowel. A patient with this condition will not have bowel sounds. Constipation, nausea, and vomiting are all considered symptoms of an ileus. 

Example Question #11 : Gastrointestinal Conditions

The nurse is caring for an 89 year old male who has been admitted for nausea and vomiting. His treatment plan consists of IV fluid replacement of  normal saline at , IV ondansetron PRN, IV prochlorperazine PRN, and an NPO diet. The patient starts to show signs of confusion. The nurse may suspect which of the following? 

Possible Answers:

The IV fluid replacement rate.

The patient's anti-emetics.

The NPO order.

The IV fluid composition.

New onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Correct answer:

The patient's anti-emetics.

Explanation:

Older adults are at high risk for the development of side effects related to medication use. Anti-emetics are commonly administered medications and may cause confusion, especially in older adults.

Example Question #12 : Identifying Gastrointestinal Conditions

The nursing student cares for a patient newly diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He decides to review the different types of IBD, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Which of the following statements is not true about these types of IBD?

Possible Answers:

Crohn’s disease presents with weight loss, anemia, and dehydration.

Complications of ulcerative colitis include hemorrhage, abscess formation, and arthritis.

Complications of Crohn’s disease include fistula formation and intestinal obstruction.

Ulcerative colitis usually manifests with fatty stool (steatorrhea).

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may occur in very young children.

Correct answer:

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may occur in very young children.

Explanation:

Ulcerative colitis has a usual age of onset from 20-30 and 50-80 years old. Patients with UC have frequent fatty stools with occasional rectal bleeding and abdominal pain after eating. Nurses who care for patients with UC must consider possible intestinal obstruction and fistula formation in these patients. Crohn’s disease has a usual age of onset from young adults to middle aged (30-50 years old). Patients with Crohn’s disease do not have fatty stools but do have common rectal bleeding that may lead to hemorrhage. These patients experience pain before defecating and will have 10-20 liquid (usually bloody) stools per day. Nurses who care for patients with Crohn’s disease should consider possible abscess formation and arthritis. Both UC and Crohn’s disease present with weight loss, anemia, and dehydration due to ineffective nutritional absorption through the intestinal tract.

Example Question #13 : Identifying Gastrointestinal Conditions

Nurse is discussing with a 56-year-old male client causative factors that have lead to his development of peptic ulcer disease. The nurse realizes that there is need for further teaching when the patient makes which of the incorrect statements?

Possible Answers:

"I will quit smoking, as I understand nicotine contributes to the development of gastric ulcers."

"I will avoid certain medications such as aspirin, NSAIDs, and corticosteroids - they are capable of disrupting the stomach lining."

"I am aware that I should in engage in relaxation techniques to minimize stress, to help reduce the amount of acid my stomach produces. "

"I will take my prescribed triple therapy with antibiotics and proton pump inhibitor to eliminate the the H. pylori infection for two months as instructed by my physician." 

"I will eat several small bland meals daily, and avoid irritating foods such as raw fruits, and vegetables."

Correct answer:

"I will take my prescribed triple therapy with antibiotics and proton pump inhibitor to eliminate the the H. pylori infection for two months as instructed by my physician." 

Explanation:

The treatment for peptic ulcer disease when the bacterium H. pylori is found to be present has several treatment strategies. These strategies include a triple drug therapy consisting of a proton pump inhibitor, amoxicillin and clarithromycin. This combination of drugs should be continued for 7-14 days, 2 months is not the course of treatment. All other statements are consistent with proper teaching of causative factors associated with peptic ulcer disease. 

Example Question #12 : Gastrointestinal Conditions

A nurse is retrieving a report from a hepatic biopsy in a patient with an acute hepatitis B infection. The report describes swollen hepatocytes with irregularly clumped cytoplasmic organelles and large clear spaces. This is known as which of the following? 

Possible Answers:

Fibrotic changes

Ballooning degeneration

Necrosis

Ascites

Correct answer:

Ballooning degeneration

Explanation:

Ballooning degeneration is a form of hepatocellular apoptosis (rather than necrosis) in which hepatocytes swell and begin to show irregularly clumped cytoplasmic organelles and large clear spaces. It is a severe condition often seen with viral hepatitis or steatohepatitis. It is distinct from fibrotic changes, in which depositions of collagen fibers are seen on histology. Ascites is a collection of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, rather than a histological feature.

Example Question #13 : Gastrointestinal Conditions

Which of the following is not a response normally seen in liver disease?

Possible Answers:

Intracellular accumulation

All of these are commonly seen in liver disease

Inflammation

Necrosis

Correct answer:

All of these are commonly seen in liver disease

Explanation:

The liver generally responds to injury in the following ways: inflammation, necrosis or apoptosis, degeneration leading to accumulation of intracellular deposits, fibrosis, and regeneration. Some of these, such as inflammation and mild degeneration, are reversible. Other changes, such as severe degeneration and fibrosis, may be permanent.

Example Question #15 : Gastrointestinal Conditions

You are assessing a patient complaining of three days of fever, crampy abdominal pain and profuse, watery, mucoid, non-bloody diarrhea. The patient recently completed a course of clindamycin after having her wisdom teeth removed. The patient has not eaten any raw foods, red meats, shellfish, seafood, or greasy foods recently, and has not had any recent travel. What is the most likely cause of her diarrhea?

Possible Answers:

Salmonella typhi

Cryptosporidium parvum

Shigella dysenteriae

Escherichia coli

Clostridium difficile

Correct answer:

Clostridium difficile

Explanation:

The most likely cause of this patient's diarrhea is Clostridium difficile, also known as "C. diff." 

Clostridium difficile typically causes watery, non-bloody, mucoid diarrhea, associated with fever and abdominal pain, most commonly in patients who have completed a recent course of antibiotics. In the past, it was thought that clindamycin was the most frequent antibiotic-related cause of C. difficile, but recent studies have shown that other classes of antiobiotics, including cephalosporins, are associated with comparable rates of C. difficile diarrhea. In this patient, the characteristics of her diarrhea, associated sypmtoms, and recent antibiotic exposure are most consistent with C. difficile as the cause of her diarrhea.

Escherichia coli exists in multiple subtypes, but often is associated with bloody diarrhea after eating undercooked red meats (EHEC diarrhea), or watery diarrhea after traveling to a foreign, undeveloped country (ETEC diarrhea). This patient's history is not consistent with E. coli infection.

Salmonella and Shigella diarrhea are each typically bloody. This patient's diarrhea is non-bloody. 

Cryptosporidium parvum diarrhea is often watery, as is the case in this patient, but it frequently occurs in immunosuppressed patients, is typically not mucoid, and does not have a known temporal association with taking antibiotics, as does C. difficile

Example Question #14 : Gastrointestinal Conditions

You are the nurse taking care of a patient who is receiving ibuprofen for back pain, and the patient complains of burning epigastric pain after swallowing his ibuprofen pills for the last few days. You suggest which of the following to the patient?

Possible Answers:

"Try taking the pills with a full glass of water."

"Try taking the pills without any water."

"Take the pills right before lie down you go to sleep."

"Request the pills more frequently."

"Try taking the pills while lying down."

Correct answer:

"Try taking the pills with a full glass of water."

Explanation:

The correct answer is "Try taking the pills with a full glass of water." 

The concept tested by this question is pill esophagitis. Pill esophagitis is an irritation of the esophagus that can occur after a patient takes certain medications orally. Pill esophagitis is caused both in part by local, direct damage to the esophageal mucosal lining from the pill itself, as well as from (depending on the particular drug) the systemic actions of the drug. In this patient's case, he takes ibuprofen, which can both damage the esophagus lining directly, and also predispose to poor mucosal repair from its systemic effects.

There are a number of interventions to remediate pill esophagitis. If the medication can be changed to an equivalent drug that has less of a known propensity to cause pill esophagitis, that is a valid option. In addition, as in this case, you can encourage the patient to take the pill with a full glass of water, as this helps increase the odds of the pill traveling the full distance of the esophagus to the stomach, and not getting caught in the esophagus, causing localized damage and esophagitis symptoms. 

Taking the pills while lying down would be an inappropriate intervention, as this increases the risk of the pill getting stuck in the esophagus, causing localized esophagitis symptoms. The same reasoning applies for taking the pill right before lying down for bed.

Taking the pills without any water would also decrease the odds of the pill fully traveling down the esophagus to the stomach, and therefore increases the odds of experiencing pill esophagitis symptoms. 

Requesting more of the pills without addressing how the patient is taking the pills would be inappropriate, as they appear to be inciting the esophagitis pain.

Example Question #16 : Identifying Gastrointestinal Conditions

You are the nurse taking care of a patient with dull epigastric abdominal pain that is new since returning from vacation three weeks ago. He was recently on vacation to India where he did not have any dietary restrictions. Fecal occult blood testing stool cards revealed occult blood in the patient's stool. He does not have any associated diarrhea, weight loss, hematemesis, or other symptoms. Which of the following is the most likely cause of the patient's abdominal pain?

Possible Answers:

Malnutrition

Peptic ulcer disease

Traveler's diarrhea

Pancreatic cancer

Aortic dissection

Correct answer:

Peptic ulcer disease

Explanation:

The correct answer is "peptic ulcer disease." This answer is correct because the patient's symptoms and studies (dull epigastric abdominal pain, FOBT hemoccult positivity) as well as the time course relative to his vacation to a developing nation (three weeks removed from travel to India) are each quite consistent with peptic ulcer disease. Peptic ulcer disease is rather rare in developed countries, as the causative organism, Helicobacter pylori, has essentially been eradicated in developed countries. However, in developing countries, such as Mexico or India, which are frequently traveled places by Americans, patients can be exposed to H. pylori in the food and water supply there, which can then begin to grow in the patient's gastrointestinal tract. As a result, it can predispose the patient to peptic ulcer formation, which would present, as in this patient, with a dull epigastric abdominal pain/discomfort as well as dried or occult blood in the stool.

The patient does not have any diarrhea or lower abdominal pain that would suggest traveler's diarrhea. 

There is no evidence that the patient is malnourished from the information provided. 

While vague, dull, gnawing abdominal pain is a potential sign of pancreatic cancer, peptic ulcer disease is a more likely etiology of this patient's abdominal pain given its time course relative to his travel to India.

There is no evidence to suggest that this patient is experiencing an aortic dissection as that is often described as "tearing" back pain.

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