Peritonitis - spontaneous
Peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs.
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP)
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Spontaneous peritonitis is usually caused by infection of ascites, a collection of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. This usually occurs from severe liver or kidney disease.
Spontaneous peritonitis also occurs in patients who are on peritoneal dialysis for kidney failure.
Peritonitis may also occur due to inflammation, infection, or injury of the intestines. Examples include appendicitis or diverticulitis.
Other symptoms include:
Signs and tests
Tests will be done to check for infection and rule out other causes of abdominal pain:
- Blood culture
- White blood cell count in a sample of peritoneal fluid
- Chemical examination of peritoneal fluid
- Culture of peritoneal fluid
- CT scan or ultrasound of the abdomen
Treatment depends on the cause of the peritonitis.
- Surgery may be needed if peritonitis is caused by a foreign object, such as a catheter used in peritoneal dialysis.
- Antibiotics may control infection in cases of spontaneous peritonitis with liver or kidney disease.
- Intravenous therapy can treat dehydration.
The infection can usually be treated. However, kidney or liver disease may limit recovery.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of peritonitis. This can quickly become an emergency situation.
Patients with peritoneal catheters should be treated with sterile techniques. In cases of liver failure, antibiotics may help prevent peritonitis from coming back. Antibiotics may be used to prevent peritonitis if you have acute gastrointestinal bleeding due to certain health conditions.
Garcia-Tiso G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In Goldman L,Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2011:chap 156.
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.
Runyon BA. Ascites and spontaneous bacterialperitonitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 91.
Last reviewed 8/10/2012 by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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