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    Peritonitis

    Acute abdomen

    Peritonitis is an inflammation (irritation) of the peritoneum, 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).

    See the specific types of peritonitis:

    • Peritonitis - spontaneous
    • Peritonitis - secondary

    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
    • Fluid in the abdomen
    • 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. Itmay feel firm or"board-like." Persons 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 a number of different complications. Complications depend on the specific 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.

    Prevention

    Prevention depends on the cause. See the specific types 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: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 45.

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

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    • Peritoneal sample

      illustration

    • Abdominal organs

      illustration

    • Gastroschisis repair - ...

      Presentation

      • Peritoneal sample

        illustration

      • Abdominal organs

        illustration

      • Gastroschisis repair - ...

        Presentation

      A Closer Look

      Tests for Peritonitis

        Review Date: 5/16/2012

        Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

        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.
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