As you have already seen, the 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. All these signs can determine the doctor to set the diagnosis of peritonitis. In addition to this there are several methods used to confirm this diagnosis.
Blood tests are used for identifying which bacteria caused the infection.
X-rays of the chest is a test which can detect,using invisible electromagnetic rays, if there’s air in the peritoneal cavity (this can indicate that a organ may be perforated or torned). These rays are taken with the person lying down and standing and produce images of internal organs and tissues onto film. Other tests like ultrasound CT scan can also be performed if it’s necessary.
Laparoscopy is a procedure which consists in withdrawing fluid from the abdominal cavity by introducing a very thin tube or a needle through a small incision of the abdomen. This fluid is then analysed for identifying the microorganism causing the disease.
Peritoneal lavage is a method of “washing out” the bacteria by injecting a big quantity of fluid injected into the peritoneum.
However the most important way of diagnosing peritonitis is exploratory surgery .
Peritonitis, especially secondary peritonitis, can be prevented if is early diagnosed and treated properly. Patients who suffered from spontaneous bacterial peritonitis are predisposed to this disease, so in order to prevent it they should take antibiotics for preventing another infection. Antibiotics are recommended also for people with ascites who does not have the necessary quantity of proteins.