The key difference between ascites and peritonitis is that ascites is a medical condition that causes fluid accumulation in the spaces within the abdomen, while peritonitis is a medical condition that causes redness and swelling of the tissue that lines the abdomen.
The abdomen is the space in the human body located between the thorax (chest) and pelvis. The area occupied by the abdomen is known as the abdominal cavity. The diaphragm forms the upper surface of the abdomen. Moreover, the abdomen contains all the digestive organs, including the stomach, small intestine, large intestine pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. Various diseases occur in the abdomen. Ascites and peritonitis are two such diseases.
What is Ascites?
Ascites is a medical condition that causes fluid accumulation in spaces within the abdomen. Severe ascites may usually be painful. This condition may also keep patients from moving around comfortably. Ascites also triggers infection in the abdomen. Sometimes, the accumulated fluid moves into the chest and surrounds the lungs, causing breathing difficulties. The most common cause of ascites is cirrhosis of the liver. The most common cause of cirrhosis is drinking too much alcohol. Ascites can also occur due to cancer. Ascites is often associated with advanced or recurrent cancers. Ascites may also be caused due to other health problems such as heart condition, dialysis, low protein levels, and infection.
The symptoms of ascites include swelling in the abdomen, weight gain, sense of fullness or heaviness, bloating, nausea, indigestion, vomiting, swelling in the lower legs, shortness of breath, and hemorrhoids. Furthermore, this condition is diagnosed by checking the fluid sample taken from the abdomen (paracentesis), and imaging testing (ultrasound, MRI, and CT scan). The treatments include limiting sodium intake, using diuretics (furosemide, spironolactone), diet changes (low liquid diet), and surgery that places a shunt in the liver.
What is Peritonitis?
Peritonitis is the redness and inflammation (swelling) of the tissue that lines the abdomen. This tissue is known as the peritoneum. Peritonitis is mainly caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria enter the lining of the abdomen through a hole in the gastrointestinal tract. This can normally happen when there is a hole in the colon or a burst appendix. The other causes of peritonitis include a hole in the stomach, intestine, gallbladder, or uterus, infection when treating for end-stage kidney disease, infection of the fluid in the belly from end-stage liver disease, pelvic inflammatory disease in women, and surgery that causes bacteria to enter.
The symptoms of peritonitis include severe belly pain, nausea, and vomiting, fever, sore or swollen belly, fluid in the belly, not being able to have a bowel movement, less urine than normal, thirst, trouble breathing, low blood pressure, and shock. Peritonitis can be diagnosed through physical examination, checking infected fluid taken from the belly, X-ray, C-T scans, MRI, blood tests, and urine tests. This condition can be treated with amoxicillin, clavulanic acids, piperacillin, tazobactam, cefoperazone, ticarcillin, surgery, pain medication, intravenous fluid, providing oxygen, and blood transfusion.
What are the Similarities Between Ascites and Peritonitis?
- Ascites and peritonitis are two medical conditions occurring in the abdomen.
- In both medical conditions, the patient may have a problem with movement.
- Both medical conditions have similar symptoms.
- They are easily treatable medical conditions.
What is the Difference Between Ascites and Peritonitis?
Ascites is a medical condition that causes fluid accumulation in the spaces within the abdomen, while peritonitis is a medical condition that causes redness and swelling of the tissue that lines the abdomen. Thus, this is the key difference between ascites and peritonitis. Furthermore, the main cause of ascites is cirrhosis, while the main cause of peritonitis is a bacterial infection.
The below infographic presents the differences between ascites and peritonitis in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Ascites vs Peritonitis
Ascites and peritonitis are two medical conditions that are due to problems in the abdomen. Ascites causes fluid accumulation in the spaces within the abdomen, while peritonitis causes redness and swelling of the tissue that lines the abdomen. So, this is the key difference between ascites and peritonitis.
1. Rahil Shah, MD. “.” Background, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, Medscape.
2. “.” Johns Hopkins Medicine.
1. “” By Cancer Research UK – Original email from CRUK via Commons Wikimedia
2. “” By CoRus13 – Own work via Commons Wikimedia