What is the definition of Peritonitis?

Peritonitis is an inflammation (irritation) of the peritoneum. This is the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs.

What are the alternative names for Peritonitis?

Acute abdomen; Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis; SBP; Cirrhosis - spontaneous peritonitis

What are the causes for Peritonitis?

Peritonitis is caused by a collection of blood, body fluids, or pus in the belly (abdomen).

One type is called spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SPP). It occurs in people with ascites. Ascites is the buildup of fluid in the space between the lining of the abdomen and the organs. This problem is found in people with long-term liver damage, certain cancers, and heart failure.

Peritonitis may be a result of other problems. This is known as secondary peritonitis. Problems that may lead to this type of peritonitis include:

  • Trauma or wounds to the belly
  • Ruptured appendix
  • Ruptured diverticula
  • Infection after any surgery in the belly

What are the symptoms for Peritonitis?

The belly 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:

  • Fever and chills
  • Passing little or no stools or gas
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Passing less urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

What are the current treatments for Peritonitis?

The cause must be identified and treated right away. Treatment typically involves surgery and antibiotics.

What are the possible complications for Peritonitis?

Peritonitis can be life threatening and may cause complications. These depend on the type of peritonitis.

When should I contact a medical professional for Peritonitis?

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms of peritonitis.

Peritoneal sample
Abdominal organs


Bush LM, Levison ME. Peritonitis and intraperitoneal abscesses. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 74.

Kuemmerle JF. Inflammatory and anatomic diseases of the intestine, peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 133.

  • Condition: Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease in Tunisia
  • Journal: The Pan African medical journal
  • Treatment Used: Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
  • Number of Patients: 304
  • Published —
This study analyzed the outcomes of peritoneal dialysis (PD) in the treatment of patients with end-stage renal disease in Tunisia.
  • Condition: Cirrhosis
  • Journal: Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania)
  • Treatment Used: Norfloxacin as Secondary Prophylaxis
  • Number of Patients: 122
  • Published —
This study evaluated the incidence of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) in patients with cirrhosis receiving norfloxacin as secondary prophylaxis.