Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin membrane that lines the abdominal wall and covers the organs inside. It is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.

There are two major types of peritonitis. Primary peritonitis happens when an infection spreads from the blood and lymph nodes to the peritoneum. This type of peritonitis is rare, less than 1% of all cases.

The more common type of peritonitis, called secondary peritonitis, happens when the infection comes into the peritoneum through a perforation in the abdominal wall.

Both cases of peritonitis are very serious and can be life threatening if not treated quickly.

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Review Date: 12/9/2014  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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