Peritoneum Facts

The peritoneum is a membrane which lines the inside of the abdomen and covers its contents. The peritoneal ‘cavity’ is an enclosed sac between the lining and the contents, and normally contains only sufficient fluid to lubricate the movement of the loops of the intestines, allowing them to slide freely over each other and against the inside of the abdominal wall. Disease of the stomach, intestines, or appendix which causes leakage or rupture (perforation) can result in dissemination of infected material throughout the cavity, causing peritonitis. Accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity (ascites) occurs along with generalized edema in conditions such as heart failure or kidney failure.