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Peritoneal cavity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peritoneal cavity
PrecursorIntraembryonic coelom
Latincavitas peritonealis,
saccus serosus peritonei
Anatomical terminology

The peritoneal cavity is a potential space between the parietal peritoneum (the serous membrane that surrounds the abdominal wall) and visceral peritoneum (which surrounds the internal organs).[1] The parietal and visceral peritonea are layers of the peritoneum named depending on their function/location. It is one of the spaces derived from the coelomic cavity of the embryo, the others being the pleural cavities around the lungs and the pericardial cavity around the heart.

It is the largest serosal sac, and the largest fluid-filled cavity,[2] in the body and secretes approximately 50 ml of fluid per day. This fluid acts as a lubricant and has anti-inflammatory properties.

The peritoneal cavity is divided into two compartments – one above, and one below the transverse colon.[3]


The peritoneal cavity is divided by the transverse colon (and its mesocolon) into an upper supracolic compartment, and a lower infracolic compartment. The liver, spleen, stomach, and lesser omentum are contained within the supracolic compartment. The small intestine surrounded by the ascending, transverse, and descending colon, and the paracolic gutters are contained within the infracolic compartment.[3]

Clinical significance[edit]

The peritoneal cavity is a common injection site, used in intraperitoneal injection.[citation needed] An increase in the capillary pressure in the abdominal viscera can cause fluid to leave the interstitial space and enter the peritoneal cavity, a condition called ascites.

In cases where cerebrospinal fluid builds up, such as in hydrocephalus, the fluid is commonly diverted to the peritoneal cavity by use of a shunt placed by surgery.[4]

Body fluid sampling from the peritoneal cavity is called peritoneocentesis.

The peritoneal cavity is involved in peritoneal dialysis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pannu, HK; Oliphant, M (October 2015). "The subperitoneal space and peritoneal cavity: basic concepts". Abdominal Imaging. 40 (7): 2710–22. doi:10.1007/s00261-015-0429-5. PMC 4584112. PMID 26006061.
  2. ^ Heimbürger, Olof (1 January 2019). "29 - Peritoneal Physiology". Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, and Transplantation (Fourth Edition). Elsevier: 450–469.e6. doi:10.1016/b978-0-323-52978-5.00029-x. ISBN 9780323529785.
  3. ^ a b Sharma, M; Madambath, JG; Somani, P; Pathak, A; Rameshbabu, CS; Bansal, R; Ramasamy, K; Patil, A (March 2017). "Endoscopic ultrasound of peritoneal spaces". Endoscopic Ultrasound. 6 (2): 90–102. doi:10.4103/2303-9027.204816. PMC 5418973. PMID 28440234.
  4. ^ Adzick, Scott; Thom, Spong; Brock, Burrows; et al. (17 March 2011). "A Randomized Trial of Prenatal versus Postnatal Repair of Myelomeningocele". The New England Journal of Medicine. 364 (11): 993–1004. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1014379. PMC 3770179. PMID 21306277.

External links[edit]

  • peritoneum at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University)