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
ascites. It is caused by health conditions, such as cirrhosis (chronic liver disease).
- 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 chance of peritonitis include:
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.
Gastro—American Gastroenterological Association
The American College of Gastroenterology
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
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Peritonitis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peritonitis/basics/definition/con-20032165. Updated July 2011. Accessed August 26, 2014.
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