How to Say It: peh-rit-oh-NYE-tis
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneum. This is the thin tissue that covers the inside of the abdomen. It also covers the outside of the intestines and other abdominal organs.
There are three types:
This health problem needs care right away. It can be deadly.
This health problem is caused by infection. Common causes are:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done.
Fluid may be taken from the peritoneum for testing. This can be done with paracentesis.
Images may be taken of the abdomen. This can be done with x-rays.
Surgery may be done to look inside the abdomen. This can be done with laparotomy.
The underlying cause will need to be treated. This may involve things like surgery to remove a ruptured appendix.
The goal of treatment is to ease inflammation. This can be done with antibiotics or antifungal medicine to treat infection.
There are no current guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American College of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Marciano S, Díaz JM, et al. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in patients with cirrhosis: incidence, outcomes, and treatment strategies. Hepat Med. 2019;11:13-22.
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/spontaneous-bacterial-peritonitis. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Accessed March 23, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD