Get exclusive member benefits & effect social change. Join Today
Inflammation that affects the retroperitoneal space is a serious medical condition with a high mortality rate. However, early diagnosis and treatment improves the outlook for this condition.
The retroperitoneal space is the space between the peritoneum and the posterior abdominal wall. In less complicated terms, it’s the space in your abdomen behind the abdominal lining. It houses major organs including:
Inflammation is often in response to an infection. The infection can spread all over the body and affect vital organs if left untreated. The inflammation can also cause pressure on vital organs. This pressure could cause irreversible complications.
Retroperitoneal inflammation is also known as retroperitonitis.
Retroperitoneal inflammation occurs when harmful bacteria come in contact with the abdominal wall. This typically occurs when the wall is punctured or ruptures due to:
Chronic digestive conditions, such as stomach ulcers and diverticulitis, can create problems, especially if left untreated.
Risky behavior such as playing contact sports can make a person more susceptible to traumatic injuries that puncture the abdominal wall.
Surgical procedures performed with contaminated equipment or poor hygiene can increase a person’s risk of infection and retroperitoneal inflammation.
Retroperitoneal inflammation has similar symptoms as other abdominal infections with inflammation. Symptoms include:
Diagnosis begins with a physical exam. Your doctor will assess your symptoms. He or she will then typically order an abdominal X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging tests will show the interior of your abdomen and allow your doctor to assess your condition. This will also help your doctor see if any organs are being affected by the inflammation.
Blood tests can help identify markers of inflammation in the blood and signs of anemia (low red blood cell count). These can be signs of other conditions, such as retroperitoneal fibrosis.
Your doctor may order a biopsy (surgical removal of a small amount of peritoneal tissue) to rule out other causes of the inflammation.
Treatment for retroperitoneal inflammation is extremely important in preventing complications. Treatment will require a stay in the hospital.
This condition is largely treated with antibiotics or surgery.
Antibiotics can help prevent inflammation caused by infection from spreading. The type of antibiotic and the duration of the treatment depend on the extent of the inflammation.
Your doctor may need to remove severely inflamed and infected tissue to prevent further problems. The infection could spread to other organs, for example. Surgery may be necessary if it has spread. Treatment is necessary for obstructions in the ducts or blood vessels of the organs, such as the ureters that connect the kidneys and bladder, to prevent fatal complications.
Your doctor may give you immunosuppressant therapy if he or she determines that your immune system’s response is worsening your condition.
The extent of the damage and how quickly treatment can be administered determine recovery from retroperitoneal inflammation.
Hospital stays may be lengthy because it is a serious condition that can have life-threatening consequences. You will remain an inpatient until hospital staff can ensure that all issues have been treated.
Serious complications can arise when inflammation affects the organs in your abdomen, such as the abdominal aorta (the large blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood to the lower half of your body).
Written by: Brian Krans
Published on: Sep 18, 2012
Medically reviewed on: Jan 26, 2016: Steve Kim, MD
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save 10% on the monthly service charge of qualified AT&T wireless plans.
Members pay $9.50 for Regal ePremiere Tickets purchased online.
Members earn points on select Walgreens-brand health and wellness products.
Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.