DefinitionPeritonitis is an inflammation or infection of the peritoneum. The peritoneum is a thin tissue lining that covers the inside of the abdominal cavity. It also covers the outside of the intestines and other abdominal organs.There are several types:
- Peritoneal dialysis-related
- Primary peritonitis—Occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. This is called ascites . It is caused by health conditions, such as cirrhosis (chronic liver disease).
- Secondary peritonitis—Caused by bacteria that enter the abdominal cavity. Can be due to an injury or a condition, such as a ruptured appendix.
- Dialysis-related peritonitis—Caused by bacteria that enter the peritoneal cavity during or after peritoneal dialysis (a treatment for kidney disease).
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Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your chance of peritonitis include:
- Abdominal penetration or trauma
- Immune compromise
- Blood in the abdomen
- Ruptured appendix
- Peptic ulcer
- Gangrene of the bowel
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Inflamed gallbladder
- Recent surgery
- Tubes or shunts in the abdomen
- Cortisone drugs
SymptomsPeritonitis may cause:
- Severe pain or tenderness in the abdomen
- Pain in the abdomen that is worse with motion
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid pulse or breathing rate
- Dehydration —signs include dry skin and lips, decreased urine production
DiagnosisThe doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
TreatmentTreatment depends on the cause. It may include:
- Surgery to repair openings in the skin surface or to remove damaged tissue
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Replacement of fluids
PreventionThere are no current guidelines to prevent peritonitis.
Gastro—American Gastroenterological Association
The American College of Gastroenterology
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Bacterial peritonitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 1, 2014. Accessed August 26, 2014.
Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 2005.
Olendorf D, Jeryan C, Boyden K. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Detroit, MI: Gale Group Research Company; 2000.
Peritonitis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peritonitis/basics/definition/con-20032165. Updated July 2011. Accessed August 26, 2014.
Townsend CM, et al. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2004.
Yamada T, Alpers DH, et al. Textbook of Gastroenterology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2003.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/30/2013
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