How is peritonitis diagnosed?

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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The diagnosis of peritonitis is usually clinical. Diagnostic peritoneal lavage may be helpful in patients who do not have conclusive signs on physical examination or who cannot provide an adequate history; in addition, paracentesis should be performed in all patients who do not have an indwelling peritoneal catheter and are suspected of having SBP, because results of aerobic and anaerobic bacterial cultures, used in conjunction with the cell count, are useful in guiding therapy. (See Workup.)

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