Which physical findings suggest peritonitis and abdominal sepsis?

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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On physical examination, patients with peritonitis generally appear unwell and in acute distress. Many of them have a temperature that exceeds 38° C, although patients with severe sepsis may become hypothermic. Tachycardia may be present, as a result of the release of inflammatory mediators, intravascular hypovolemia from anorexia, vomiting and fever, and third-space losses into the peritoneal cavity. With progressive dehydration, patients may become hypotensive (5-14% of patients), as well as oliguric or anuric; with severe peritonitis, they may present in overt septic shock.

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