What is peritonitis?

Updated: Jul 23, 2019
  • Author: Brian J Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Answer

Peritonitis is defined as an inflammation of the serosal membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and the organs contained therein. The peritoneum, which is an otherwise sterile environment, reacts to various pathologic stimuli with a fairly uniform inflammatory response. Depending on the underlying pathology, the resultant peritonitis may be infectious or sterile (ie, chemical or mechanical). The abdomen is the second most common source of sepsis and secondary peritonitis. [1] Intra-abdominal sepsis is an inflammation of the peritoneum caused by pathogenic microorganisms and their products. [2] The inflammatory process may be localized (abscess) or diffuse in nature. (See Pathophysiology.)


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