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Disorders of the Abdominal Cavity

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Below the thoracic cavity and above the pelvic cavity is the abdominal cavity, an area of the body that contains several organs. The large intestine, gallbladder, stomach, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen and small intestine are found in the abdominal cavity.

Lining the abdominal cavity is the peritoneum. Several disorders can affect the abdominal cavity or its lining.

Intra-Abdominal Abscess

When an individual has intra-abdominal abscess, she has a collection of pus in her abdominal cavity.

Several disorders can cause an intra-abdominal abscess, including a ruptured intestinal diverticulum, inflammatory bowel disease, a ruptured appendix, and infection of the parasite Entamoeba histolytica in the intestines.

Having a history of perforated ulcer disease, appendicitis and diverticulitis can increase an individual’s risk of developing an intra-abdominal abscess.

Symptoms include weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, nausea and chills. Patients may have abdominal pain and rectal tenderness and fullness.

To diagnose an intra-abdominal abscess, the physician will order a complete blood count and CT scan of the abdomen. Treatment involves intravenous antibiotics and drainage of the abscess.

If the abscess cannot be safely drained with an x-ray guided needle, surgery will be done, according to MedlinePlus.


An inflammation of the peritoneum is called peritonitis. Intra-abdominal abscess may cause peritonitis. An individual may have secondary peritonitis, which occurs when bacteria enter the peritoneum through a gastrointestinal tract perforation, bile leaking into the peritoneum, or if foreign contaminants enter into the lining.

If an individual has spontaneous peritonitis, an infection of ascites usually causes it, noted MedlinePlus.

With peritonitis, the patient has a tender or very painful abdomen, which worsens with being touched or when the patient moves. Bloating, nausea, vomiting, chills and excessive fatigue may occur.

The person may pass less urine, gas or stools. To diagnose peritonitis, the physician will perform a physical exam.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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