Inflammation of the peritoneum. Peritonitis is a serious, usually acute, condition. The most common cause is perforation of the stomach or intestine wall, which allows bacteria and digestive juices to move into the abdominal cavity. Perforation is usually the result of a peptic ulcer, appendicitis, or diverticulitis. Peritonitis may also be associated with acute salpingitis, cholecystitis, or septicaemia. There is usually severe abdominal pain. After a few hours, the abdomen feels hard, and peristalsis stops (see ileus, paralytic). Other symptoms are fever, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Diagnosis is made from a physical examination. Surgery may be necessary to deal with the cause. If the cause is unknown, a laparoscopy or an exploratory laparotomy may be performed. Antibiotic drugs and intravenous infusions of fluid are often given. In most cases, a full recovery is made. Intestinal obstruction, caused by adhesions, may occur at a later stage.


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