What is the anatomy of the peritoneal cavity relative to intestinal perforation?

Updated: Jul 24, 2020
  • Author: Samy A Azer, MD, PhD, MPH; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, MSc, DSc, AGAF  more...
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The peritoneal cavity is lined with a single layer of mesothelial cells, connective tissue (including collagen), elastic tissues, macrophages, and fat cells. The parietal peritoneum covers the abdominal cavity (ie, abdominal wall, diaphragm, pelvis); the visceral peritoneum covers all of the intra-abdominal viscera, forming a cavity that is completely enclosed except at the open ends of the fallopian tubes.

The peritoneal cavity is divided by the transverse mesocolon. The greater omentum extends from the transverse mesocolon and from the lower pole of the stomach to line the lower peritoneal cavity. The pancreas, duodenum, and ascending and descending colon, are located in the anterior retroperitoneal space; the kidneys, ureters, and adrenal glands are found in the posterior retroperitoneal space. The liver, stomach, gallbladder, spleen, jejunum, ileum, transverse colon, sigmoid colon, cecum, and appendix are found within the peritoneal cavity.

A small amount of fluid sufficient to allow movement of organs is usually present in the peritoneal space. This fluid is normally serous (protein content of < 30 g/L, < 300 WBCs/µL). In the presence of infection, the amount of this fluid increases, its protein content climbs to more than 30 g/L, and the white blood cell (WBC) count increases to more than 500/µL; in other words, the fluid becomes an exudate.

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