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Peritonitis is an infection in the lining that covers your abdomen and organs, called the peritoneum. Spontaneous peritonitis happens when fluid in the peritoneum becomes infected. Secondary peritonitis happens after an injury or surgery in your abdomen. A peritonitis infection can become life-threatening.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Intake and output:

Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating.


  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Antibiotics may be given to help fight a bacterial infection.
  • Antiemetics may be given to help stop vomiting.


  • Blood tests are used to check your white blood cell (WBC) count. An increase in WBCs may be a sign of infection. Your blood may also be tested for bacteria or a fungus.
  • X-ray, ultrasound, or CT pictures may be taken of your chest or abdomen. The pictures may show problems such as a hole or tear in your gastrointestinal tract. You may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • Paracentesis is a procedure used to take a sample of fluid through a needle. The fluid is checked for increased WBCs or bacteria.


  • A nasogastric (NG) tube may be placed if you are at risk for aspiration (inhaling liquid) because you are bleeding in your esophagus or vomiting. Air or extra fluid may also be removed through the NG tube.
  • A ventilator may be used to help you breathe.
  • Paracentesis may be used to remove extra fluid from your abdomen.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove infected tissue or to close a hole. This will prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body. Surgery may also be used to drain an abscess.


You may develop an abscess (collection of pus) in your abdomen that needs to be treated. You may develop gangrene (tissue death) in your bowel. Septic shock may develop. Septic shock is dangerously low blood pressure. You may develop kidney or liver failure, or you may have trouble breathing. You may continue to have peritonitis even after treatment. Peritonitis can spread throughout your body and become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.