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Redmond Regional Medical Center



Peritonitis is an inflammation or infection of the peritoneum. The peritoneum is a thin tissue lining that covers the inside of the abdominal cavity. It also covers the outside of the intestines and other abdominal organs.

There are several types:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Peritoneal dialysis-related

Peritonitis is a serious condition. It requires immediate treatment. If not promptly treated, it can be fatal.


  • Primary peritonitis—Occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. This is called ascites . It is caused by health conditions, such as cirrhosis (chronic liver disease).
  • Secondary peritonitis—Caused by bacteria that enter the abdominal cavity. Can be due to an injury or a condition, such as a ruptured appendix.
  • Dialysis-related peritonitis—Caused by bacteria that enter the peritoneal cavity during or after peritoneal dialysis (a treatment for kidney disease).
Secondary Peritonitis
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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of peritonitis include:


Peritonitis may cause:

  • Severe pain or tenderness in the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen that is worse with motion
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid pulse or breathing rate
  • Dehydration—signs include dry skin and lips, decreased urine production


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:


Treatment depends on the cause. It may include:

  • Surgery to repair openings in the skin surface or to remove damaged tissue
  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Replacement of fluids


There are no current guidelines to prevent peritonitis.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 08/2015 -
  • Update Date: 09/30/2013 -
  • American Gastroenterological Association

  • The American College of Gastroenterology

  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

  • Health Canada

  • Bacterial peritonitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 1, 2014. Accessed August 26, 2014.

  • Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 2005.

  • Olendorf D, Jeryan C, Boyden K. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Detroit, MI: Gale Group Research Company; 2000.

  • Peritonitis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: Updated July 2011. Accessed August 26, 2014.

  • Townsend CM, et al. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2004.

  • Yamada T, Alpers DH, et al. Textbook of Gastroenterology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2003.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Redmond Regional Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.