The peritoneum is a bluish-gray membrane lining the inside of the abdomen, and continuous with the membrane of the same structure covering all the abdominal organs. This membrane secretes a serous fluid which keeps all the surfaces moist and smooth.
When there is an inflammation or congestion in the abdomen, this membrane may secrete great quantities of flud to fill up the abdomen. Under normal conditions, the peritoneum possesses great resistance to infection, but when there is an overwhelming infection of one of the abdominal or pelvic organs, the peritoneum becomes involved also.And even under such conditions the peritoneum puts up a fight, throwing out material and walling off the infection so as to prevent it from spreading.
When the peritoneum is thus infected and inflamed, the condition is known as peritonitis, which is a serious situation. But now, with penicillin, streptomycin, and the sulfa drugs, which are promptly administered in large doses, disaster is often averted.
Yet despite these antibiotic medicines, which cut the infection short and stop it from spreading, it is often necessary to operate on such cases to remove the pus already formed.However, because of the new drugs the chances of recovery are almost 100% greater.