Peritonitis is a life-threat-ening disorder in which abdominal dis-tention may be localized or generalized, depending on the extent of the inflam-mation. Fluid accumulates within the peritoneal cavity and then within the bowel lumen, causing a fluid wave and shifting dullness. Typically, distention is accompanied by sudden and severe ab-dominal pain that worsens with move-ment, rebound tenderness, and abdomi-nal rigidity.
The skin over the patient's abdomen may appear taut. Associated signs and symptoms usually include hypoactive or absent bowel sounds, fever, chills, hy-peralgesia, nausea, and vomiting. Signs of shock, such as tachycardia and hy-potension, appear with significant fluid loss into the abdomen.
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