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.
Causes: Primary peritonitis--occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. This is called ascites. It is caused by chronic liver disease, among other conditions.
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).
Risk Factors: A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for peritonitis include:
Abdominal penetration or trauma
Blood in the abdomen
Gangrene of the bowel
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Tubes or shunts in the abdomen
Symptoms: Symptoms may include:
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 dizziness
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, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:
Analysis of fluids from the peritoneum
Abdominal x-rays to look for signs of inflammation
Laparotomy–surgery to open and examine the abdomen
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
There are no guidelines for preventing peritonitis.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.