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:
- Peritoneal dialysis-related
Peritonitis is a serious condition. It requires immediate treatment. If not promptly treated, it can be fatal.
Primary peritonitis—Occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. This is called
. 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
(a treatment for kidney disease).
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Factors that may increase your chances of peritonitis:
Peritonitis 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
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
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
There are no current guidelines to prevent peritonitis.
American College of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
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.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
- Update Date: