Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Peritonitis

Acute abdomen

 

Peritonitis is an inflammation (irritation) of the peritoneum. This is the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs.

Causes

 

Peritonitis is caused by a collection of blood, body fluids, or pus in the abdomen (intra-abdominal abscess).

Types of peritonitis are:

  • Spontaneous peritonitis
  • Secondary peritonitis

 

Symptoms

 

The belly (abdomen) is very painful or tender. The pain may become worse when the belly is touched or when you move.

Your belly may look or feel bloated. This is called abdominal distention.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Passing little or no stools or gas
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Passing less urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

 

Exams and Tests

 

The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. The abdomen is usually tender. It may feel firm or "board-like." People with peritonitis usually curl up or refuse to let anyone touch the area.

Blood tests, x-rays, and CT scans may be done. If there is a lot of fluid in the belly area, the doctor may use a needle to remove some and send it for testing.

 

Treatment

 

The cause must be identified and treated promptly. Treatment typically involves surgery and antibiotics.

 

Possible Complications

 

Peritonitis can be life-threatening and may cause complications. These depend on the type of peritonitis.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms of peritonitis.

 

 

References

Badgwell B, Turnage RH. Abdominal Wall, umbilicus, peritoneum, mesenteries, omentum, and retroperitoneum. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 45.

Prather C. Inflammatory and anatomic diseases of the intestine, peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 144.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • Peritoneal sample

    Peritoneal sample

    illustration

  • Abdominal organs

    Abdominal organs

    illustration

  • Gastroschisis repair  - series

    Gastroschisis repair - ...

    Presentation

  •  
    • Peritoneal sample

      Peritoneal sample

      illustration

    • Abdominal organs

      Abdominal organs

      illustration

    • Gastroschisis repair  - series

      Gastroschisis repair - ...

      Presentation

    •  

    A Closer Look

     

    Self Care

     

    Tests for Peritonitis

     
       

      Review Date: 4/9/2014

      Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
      adam.com

       
       
       

       

       

      A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.