How is pain characterized in 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

Abdominal pain, which may be acute or insidious, is the usual chief complaint of patients with peritonitis. Initially, the pain may be dull and poorly localized (visceral peritoneum); often, it progresses to steady, severe, and more localized pain (parietal peritoneum). Abdominal pain may be exacerbated by any movement (eg, coughing, flexing the hips) and local pressure. If the underlying process is not contained, the pain becomes diffuse. In certain disease entities (eg, gastric perforation, severe acute pancreatitis, intestinal ischemia), the abdominal pain may be generalized from the beginning.


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