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Peritoneal cavity

Peritoneal cavity
Latin Cavitas peritonealis,
saccus serosus peritonei
Precursor intraembryonic coelom
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Anatomical terminology

The peritoneal cavity is a potential space between the parietal peritoneum and visceral peritoneum,[1][2] that is, the two membranes that separate the organs in the abdominal cavity from the abdominal wall. 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.

The peritoneal cavity is the largest serosal sac in the body and secretes approximately 50 ml of fluid per day. This fluid acts as a lubricant and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Clinical significance

The peritoneal cavity is a common injection site, used in intraperitoneal injection.

An increase in the capillary pressure in the abdominal viscera can cause fluid to leave the interstital 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.[3]

Body fluid sampling from the peritoneal cavity is called peritoneocentesis.


  1. ^ "peritoneal cavity" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Tank, P. (2013) Grants Dissector 15th ed., ch.4 The abdomen, p.99
  3. ^ 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. 

External links

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

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