The peritoneum (or the visceral peritoneum) is a thin, two-layered
membrane which covers the abdominal organs(like stomach, intestines or liver)
and the abdominal walls(parietal peritoneum). When this membrane becomes
inflamed it produces the disease called peritonitis.
The peritonitis is usually caused by bacterial infection. It can be two kinds
1)primary-when ablood or lymph infection causes the infection of the peritoneum as well.
However this type of peritonitis is very rare.
2)secondary-when bacteria or enzymes from the biliary or gastrointestinal tract get into peritoneum. This
sort of peritonitis is more common.
There are several factors which can
contribute at increasing the risk of peritonitis.
For example, risk factors for
primary peritonitis are: cirrhosis (liver disease), kidney damage, pelvic
inflammation, fluid in the abdomen, an immune system showing a deficit.
The following items represent a risk factors
for secondary peritonitis: stomach ulcers, damaged intestine or pancreas, appendicitis,
inflammatory bowel disease.
Spontaneous peritonitis (primary
peritonitis) usually appears on patients who suffer from liver, kidney or heart
disease. The main cause of secondary
peritonitis is the spillage of bacteria,
bile or enzymes into the peritoneum from a hole of the biliary or
gastrointestinal tract. Other causes of secondary peritonitis are: untreated
ulcer, perforated bowel, perforation or inflammation of the gall
bladder, inflammation of the fallopian tube, inflammation of the pancreas.
The symptoms of peritonitis are different from one person to
another. Some of the principal symptoms of peritonitis are: severe, steady abdominal pain , abdominal distention ,
fever (over 38.0° C), chills, associated with abundant perspiration, weakness,
vomiting and nausea, loss of appetite, the skin turns pale and cold, increased
heart rates and breathing, low blood pressure, shock, inability to urinate or pass stools.
Peritonitis can also have complications like:
Peritonitis is a life-threatening
disease which can develop dangerous complications if it’s not treated promptly.
Given this fact is very important that the diagnosis arrive on due time. First
of all the doctor does a physical examination which consists in feeling and
pressing the abdomen so he can detect any swelling, tension or tenderness of
the abdomen or if fluids are clustered
in that area. Secondly the doctor can check the blood pressure or he can listen
the bowel movements or sounds, heavy respiration or signs of dehydration, pale
skin or abnormal pulse rate.
Patients who suffer from ascites (the accumulation of an amount of fluid in the abdominal cavity)
are treated with diuretics-a type of medicine who’s effect is the increase of
urine output and implicitly the elimination of excessive fluid from the body.
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis is treated with
antibiotics like cefotaxime or ampicilin. Usually the treatment last for
1-2 weeks. In special cases like
patients who do peritoneal dialysis the doctor will decide what kind of
antibiotic should be administrated.