• Peritonitis

    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.

    Causes

    • 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 of the liver.
    • 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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    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chances of peritonitis:

    Symptoms

    Peritonitis may cause:
    • 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 lightheadedness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Rapid pulse or breathing rate
    • Dehydration—signs include dry skin and lips, decreased urine production

    Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

    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

    Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent peritonitis.

    RESOURCES

    American College of Gastroenterology http://patients.gi.org

    American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca

    Health Canada https://www.canada.ca

    References

    Bacterial peritonitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115066/Bacterial-peritonitis. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.

    Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/approach-to-the-patient-with-liver-disease/spontaneous-bacterial-peritonitis-sbp. Updated May 2016. Accessed October 3, 2017.

    Revision Information

    • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
    • Update Date: 09/30/2013
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