Peritonitis

Peritonitis 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: Peritonitis is a serious condition. It requires immediate treatment. If not promptly treated, it can be fatal.

  • Causes


    • Primary peritonitis—occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. This is called
      ascites
      . It is caused by chronic liver disease, among other conditions.
    • 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).
    Secondary Peritonitis
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  • Definition

    Peritonitis 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:

    • Primary
    • Secondary
    • Peritoneal dialysis-related

    Peritonitis is a serious condition. It requires immediate treatment. If not promptly treated, it can be fatal.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:

    • Blood tests
    • Analysis of fluids from the peritoneum

    • Abdominal
      x-rays
      —to look for signs of inflammation
    • Laparotomy
      —surgery to open and examine the abdomen

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing peritonitis.

  • Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
    Risk factors for peritonitis include:

    • Abdominal penetration or trauma
    • Immune compromise
    • Blood in the abdomen
    • Ruptured appendix
    • Peptic ulcer
    • Colitis
    • Diverticulitis
    • Gangrene
      of the bowel
    • Pancreatitis
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease
    • Inflamed gallbladder
    • Recent surgery
    • Tubes or shunts in the abdomen
    • Cortisone drugs

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Severe pain or tenderness in the abdomen
    • Pain in the abdomen that is worse with motion
    • Bloating of the abdomen
    • Constipation
    • Fever
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Weakness or dizziness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Rapid pulse or breathing rate
    • Dehydration
      —signs include dry skin and lips, decreased urine production

  • Treatment

    Treatment 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


    If you are diagnosed with peritonitis, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .