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Peritonitis - spontaneous bacterial

The peritoneum is the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the organs. Peritonitis is present when this tissue becomes inflamed or infected.

Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is present when this tissue becomes infected and there is no clear cause.

Causes

SBP is most often caused by infection in fluid that collects in the peritoneal cavity (ascites). The fluid buildup often occurs with advanced liver or kidney disease.

Risk factors for liver disease include:

SBP also occurs in people who are on peritoneal dialysis for kidney failure.

Peritonitis may have other causes. These include infection from other organs or leakage of enzymes or other toxins into the abdomen.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Other symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

Tests will be done to check for infection and other causes of abdominal pain:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the SBP.

You will need to stay in the hospital so health care providers can rule out other causes such as a ruptured appendix and diverticulitis.

Outlook (Prognosis)

In most cases, the infection can be treated. However, kidney or liver disease may limit recovery.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have symptoms of peritonitis. This can be a medical emergency situation.

Prevention

Steps should be taken to prevent infection in people with peritoneal catheters.

Antibiotics may be used:

  • To prevent peritonitis from coming back in people with liver failure
  • To prevent peritonitis in people who have acute gastrointestinal bleeding due to other conditions

Alternative Names

Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP); Ascites - peritonitis; Cirrhosis - peritonitis

References

Garcia-Tiso G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 153.

Kuemmerle JF. Inflammatory and anatomic diseases of the intestine, peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 142.

Runyon BA. Ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 93.

Review Date 5/11/2016

Updated by: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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