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This term (pear-ih-tuh-NYE-tis) refers to infection (or rarely some other type of inflammation) of the peritoneum, a membrane that covers the surfaces of both the organs that lie in the abdominal cavity and the inner surface of the abdominal cavity itself.
Peritonitis as a consequence of infection can occur as a result of perforation of a digestive organ (see appendicitis, intussusception), or as a result of "seeding" of the peritoneal cavity by germs in the blood stream (so-called primary peritonitis). The latter type is rarely seen unless the child has increased fluid in the abdomen, usually because of kidney disease.