ABC Medical Center > Peritonitis

What is Peritonitis?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is an inflammatory disease caused by accumulation of blood, fluids, or pus in the inner membrane that covers the abdomen, called the peritoneum, whose function is vital so that the organs located in that area are protected from bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms. When the membrane becomes infected or ruptured, it must be treated immediately to avoid complications that can be life-threatening.  

Peritonitis is usually classified into three large groups:

  • By its extension:
    • Localized: located in a certain area of the peritoneum due to the inflammation of an organ housed in the abdominal cavity.
    • Generalized: present in the entire peritoneal cavity.
  • Agent causing it:
    • Septic: when there is infection. 
    • Aseptic: presence of fluids, blood, bile, or digestive juices. 
  • Origin:
    • Primary: caused by ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, where bacteria proliferate). It is the least common, but people with chronic conditions can have it.
    • Secondary: it arises when the appendix is perforated, there is acute appendicitis, gastric or duodenal ulcers, diseases in the gallbladder or pancreas, obstruction of the colon, inflammatory bowel disease, and lesions of the female genital organs. It can also appear due to some trauma or complications after a surgical intervention.
    • Tertiary: it occurs as a consequence of secondary peritonitis in operated patients with multi-organ involvement. 

Signs and symptoms Peritonitis

The most common are:

  • Scanty urine.
  • Difficulty passing gas.
  • Dehydration.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Abdominal distension.
  • Severe pain and abdominal sensation, either sudden or gradual.
  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • High fever.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Lack of appetite.

If you have any of these symptoms, go immediately to your doctor, or if the pain is very intense, go to the emergency room. 

Peritonitis requires immediate attention, as it can trigger:

  • Liver failure.
  • Respiratory insufficiency.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Septicemia leading to multiple organ failure and death.

Diagnosis and treatment Peritonitis

After analyzing your symptoms and performing a physical examination to see where the pain is coming from, your doctor will order a blood and urine test to assess a possible infection. It will also require imaging studies such as x-rays, computed tomography, and MRI, which detects the presence of lesions in the abdomen and the organs located in it, in order to confirm the diagnosis. 

The treatment indicated for peritonitis will depend on the cause that originated it, its severity, and if there is an infection, but generally you will be given intravenous antibiotics to fight the infection and painkillers. 

In the case of secondary peritonitis, urgent surgical intervention will be necessary in order to clean the peritoneal area and remove the infected tissue.

In our High Specialty Surgery Center, we perform more than 7,000 cutting-edge surgical procedures each year with state-of-the-art technology. Our mission is to provide you with general and highly specialized medical-surgical services with the highest standards of quality and safety comparable with international centers of excellence through a multidisciplinary team that uses evidence-based clinical protocols that guarantee the best assistance and care of your health.

The ABC Medical Center has always been known for practicing cutting-edge medicine. Our commitment to innovate keeps us as leaders in the practice of this discipline.


  • Vargas OJM, Arias AA, Alcantú RAL. Variables clínicas, humorales e imagenológicas útiles para el diagnóstico de las peritonitis persistentes. Mul Med. 2020;24(1):154-168.
  • González AJC, Cabrera LJO, Martí GGM, et al. Albúmina sérica como factor pronóstico de fallo múltiple de órganos en pacientes con peritonitis difusa secundaria. MediSan. 2020;24(04):627-640.
  • Guerra MI, Espinosa TF. El desempeño profesional del cirujano general en la detección temprana de la peritonitis aguda postoperatoria. Rev Cub de Tec de la Sal. 2020;11(1):35-40.
  • Miranda PR. Mortalidad por peritonitis secundaria en una unidad de cuidados intensivos.. Rev Méd Electrón. 2020;42(1):.

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