Peritonitis

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Causes of Abdominal Pain

The term abdominal pain generally is used to describe pain that originates from organs within the abdominal cavity. There are numerous causes of abdominal pain, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Indigestion after eating
  • Peritonitis
  • Gallstones and gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease)
  • Appendicitis
  • Gastritis...

Peritonitis facts

  • The definition of peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneal membranes.
  • The signs and symptoms of peritonitis mainly abdominal pain or discomfort but may include many others such as
  • The causes of peritonitis are usually infectious bacteria that may include underlying conditions such as
  • The most common type of peritonitis is secondary peritonitis caused by perforation of an organ in the abdomen (for example, abdominal perforation by stabbing, ruptured appendix, and many others); spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) also is relatively common.
  • Peritonitis may be treated by many different specialists depending upon its underlying cause.
  • Peritonitis is diagnosed by the patient's history, physical exam, and examination of fluid and the abdominal cavity for microorganisms. Ultrasound and CT scan of the abdomen also may be ordered.
  • The treatment for peritonitis usually involves treating the underlying cause and removing the cause of the inflammation. Most patients with peritonitis are treated with antibiotics.
  • The complications of peritonitis may include sepsis, dehydration, hepatic encephalopathy, shock and even death.
  • Peritonitis can be prevented by eliminating the underlying causes and, in some individuals, by antibiotic therapy.
  • The prognosis for a person with peritonitis depends on its underlying cause and/or how rapidly the patient is effectively treated, especially for infectious bacteria. The prognosis may range from good (appendicitis, for example) to poor (hepatorenal syndrome).

What is peritonitis?

The definition of peritonitis is as follows: inflammation of the peritoneum (the thin layer of tissue covering the inside of the abdomen and various organs within the abdomen). Peritonitis usually develops from a bacterial or less frequently, fungal infection; but there are other less often encountered causes of peritoneal inflammation.

Most individuals need quick or emergent treatment of peritonitis due to infection because infecting organisms can spread rapidly in individuals and become life-threatening.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2016

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