DESCRIPTIONPeritonitis is a serious infection or inflammation of part or all of the peritoneum, the covering of the intestinal tract. The abdomen, including the intestines and peritoneum (a thin membrane that covers all the organs and walls of the abdomen), is involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to repair the organ damage or the injury that allowed foreign material into your child's abdomen.
Self-care after treatment.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSPain in one area or throughout the child's abdomen. Pain usually starts suddenly and becomes increasingly severe. Pain may be crampy at first, and then steady. The patient often prefers to lie quietly on the back because movement or pressure on the abdomen increases pain.
Shoulder pain (sometimes).
Chills and fever (often high).
Dizziness and weakness.
Low blood pressure.
CAUSESRupture or perforation of any organ in the abdomen, such as an inflamed appendix, peptic ulcer, or infected diverticulum or gallbladder.
Injury to the abdominal wall, such as from a knife or bullet wound.
Pelvic inflammatory disease.
Rupture of an ectopic pregnancy.
Intense inflammation of the peritoneum lining that occurs when foreign material enters the abdominal cavity. Foreign material includes bacteria or gastrointestinal
contents, such as digestive juices, blood, partly digested food, or feces. These materials can enter your child's abdomen after any of the following occurs:
RISK FACTORSDelay in treatment of causes listed above.
Recent abdominal surgery.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEObtain prompt medical treatment for your child's underlying disorders.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory white blood cell count to detect inflammation, red blood cell count to detect bleeding, and measurement of fluid and electrolyte levels.
Surgical diagnostic procedures, such as passing a small needle into the child's abdomen to obtain fluid, blood, or other material.
Special studies that may include ultrasonography, CAT or CT scan, MRI, and radionuclide scan (See Glossary for all).
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSShock; blood poisoning (septicemia); intestinal obstruction caused by later adhesions (bands of scar tissue).
Usually curable with early diagnosis and treatment. Treatment delay and complications can be fatal to your child.
Early diagnosis and treatment of the child's underlying disorder, such as appendicitis, ulcer, or ectopic pregnancy, are essential. If abdominal pain develops, don't waste valuable time with home treatments -- especially laxative use. Laxatives may cause your child's inflamed abdominal organs to rupture.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight infection; pain relievers (sometimes) after diagnosis or surgery.
Your child should rest in bed after treatment until symptoms disappear. The child may read or watch TV. If surgery is necessary, normal activities may be resumed gradually after surgery.
DIET & FLUIDS
Your child should not eat or drink anything, so the intestinal tract can rest until the acute infection subsides. Intravenous nourishment and fluids will be given.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of peritonitis. This is an emergency!
The following occurs during treatment: constipation; signs of new infection, including fever, chills, muscle aches, dizziness, headache, and increasing abdominal pain.