Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Peritonitis

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.

Alternative Names

Acute abdomen

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Peritonitis is caused by a collection of blood, body fluids, or pus in the abdomen (intra-abdominal abscess ).

See the specific types of peritonitis:

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:

Signs and tests

The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. The abdomen is usually tender. It may 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.

Complications

Peritonitis can be life threatening and may cause a number of different complications. Complications depend on the specific type of peritonitis.

Calling your health care provider

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.

Updated: 5/16/2012

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.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com