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.
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.
Other symptoms include:
Tests will be done to check for infection and other causes of abdominal pain:
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.
In most cases, the infection can be treated. However, kidney or liver disease may limit recovery.
Complications may include:
Call your provider if you have symptoms of peritonitis. This can be a medical emergency situation.
Steps should be taken to prevent infection in people with peritoneal catheters.
Continuous antibiotics may be used:
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.