The peritoneum is the serous membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. This membrane is composed of a layer of mesothelium along with a thin layer of connective tissue. The two layers of the peritoneum consist of the parietal peritoneum, which is attached to the abdominal wall and the visceral peritoneum, which is wrapped around the internal organs.
The space between these two layers is the peritoneal cavity, which contains the peritoneal fluid. This fluid allows the two layers to slide freely over each other. The composition of synovial fluid, which is present in synovial joints, is slightly different from this fluid, although both have the common function of lubrication.
The peritoneal cavity helps to support the abdominal organs, and serves as a space for blood, lymph vessels, and nerves. Here are details regarding the peritoneal fluid analysis and what the test results mean.
Analysis of the Fluid
Before going in for the analysis of fluid in the peritoneum, you must inform your health care provider regarding any kind of allergies to certain medications, or anesthetic ointments. You should also inform your doctor if you have any bleeding, or if you are pregnant. The sample of fluid is collected from the peritoneal cavity using a needle and syringe.
A small area of the abdomen (near the belly button) is cleaned and numbed. After this, the needle is inserted through the skin of the abdomen into the peritoneal cavity and a small amount of fluid is withdrawn. This fluid is collected into a tube attached to the end of the needle. It is then sent to the laboratory where it is examined.
There is minimal risk involved in this procedure, and it is a routine procedure. However, there are chances that it could lead to puncture of the bowel, bladder, or a blood vessel in the abdomen. This could lead to bowel perforation, infection, or bleeding in the abdominal cavity.
Results of the Analysis
The fluid in the peritoneum is sterile, so bacteria or fungi are not usually present in this fluid. However, the composition of the fluid in the peritoneum might change in case of people affected by an abdominal disease. For instance, the peritoneal fluid cell count, and creatinine levels might rise.
A peritoneal fluid culture is done to detect the presence of bacteria, or fungi which indicates the presence of an infection in the peritoneal cavity. The fluid is examined to check for red and white blood cells count, protein and albumin, etc. Sometimes, tests are also done to check for glucose, ammonia, amylase, alkaline phosphatase, and other substances.
If the fluid is bile stained, then there is a possibility that the person has a gallbladder disease. Blood in the fluid may indicate an injury, trauma, or a tumor. Milk-colored fluid, might be a sign of lymphoma, carcinoma, or an infection.
A high white blood cell count, normally indicates the presence of inflammation of the peritoneal cavity, which is known as peritonitis. However, the diagnosis of peritonitis is not done only on the basis of the fluid analysis, but also on the symptoms exhibited by the patients.
Furthermore, other tests are also performed to check for any other abnormality in the functioning of the organs of the peritoneum.
If there is an increase in the capillary pressure in the abdominal viscera, then this could result in the fluid leaving the interstitial space, and entering the abdominal cavity, which causes a condition known as ascites, where there is accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
In such cases, there is a need for the drainage of this excess fluid, so as to prevent any infection, and pressure on the adjacent organs.
The peritoneum is a common site for injections. Often, intraperitoneal injections are used to administer chemotherapy drugs to treat certain types of cancer, especially ovarian cancer. Thus, any kind of infection of the peritoneum or the peritoneal fluid has high chances of spreading to adjacent organs, at a very quick rate.
Thus, if the person has excessive fluid in the peritoneum, or if he is showing symptoms of peritonitis, or is complaining of pain in the abdomen, then he should visit the doctor immediately for the identification and the treatment of the underlying medical condition.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.