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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Peritoneum \Per`i*to*ne"um\, n. [L. peritoneum, peritonaeum, Gr. ?, ?, fr. ? to stretch all around or over; ? around + ? to stretch.] (Anat.) The smooth serous membrane which lines the cavity of the abdomen, or the whole body cavity when there is no diaphragm, and, turning back, surrounds the viscera, forming a closed, or nearly closed, sac. [Written also periton[ae]um.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., from Late Latin peritonaeum, from Greek peritonaion "abdominal membrane," literally "part stretched over," noun use of neuter of peritonaios "stretched over," from peri- "around" (see peri-) + teinein "to stretch" (see tenet). Related: Peritoneal.


n. 1 (context anatomy English) In mammals, the serous membrane lining the cavity of the abdomen and that is folded over the viscera. 2 (context zoology English) In animals, the membrane lining the coelom cavity.

  1. n. a transparent membrane that lines the abdominal cavity in mammals and covers most of the viscera

  2. [also: peritonea (pl)]


The peritoneum is the serous membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity or coelom in amniotes and some invertebrates, such as annelids. It covers most of the intra-abdominal (or coelomic) organs, and is composed of a layer of mesothelium supported by a thin layer of connective tissue. The peritoneum supports the abdominal organs and serves as a conduit for their blood vessels, lymph vessels, and nerves.

The abdominal cavity (the space bounded by the vertebrae, abdominal muscles, diaphragm, and pelvic floor) should not be confused with the intraperitoneal space (located within the abdominal cavity, but wrapped in peritoneum). The structures within the intraperitoneal space are called "intraperitoneal" (e.g. the stomach), the structures in the abdominal cavity that are located behind the intraperitoneal space are called " retroperitoneal" (e.g. the kidneys), and those structures below the intraperitoneal space are called "subperitoneal" or "infraperitoneal" (e.g. the bladder).

Usage examples of "peritoneum".

It so happened in this case that the peritoneum was extremely dilatable, and the uterus, with the child inside, made its way into the peritoneal sac.

Anyway, at least I could start now, and I incised skin, muscles, peritoneum and rumenal wall at record speed.

Beginning at the cut portion of the abdominal wall, lift the thin lining of the peritoneum and carefully follow it toward the back and central portion of the abdomen.

It may be associated with inflammation of the ovaries, peritoneum, or bladder.

Folds of the peritoneum which support the womb and contain the Fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Then a large needle with double thread made of ten strands should be run through the middle of the incision in the end of the peritoneum, and tied firmly in cross sutures.

This inflammation should not be allowed to continue, as it may become serious, even extending to the peritoneum and producing peritonitis.

The sutures were made by means of seven thin, hot iron spikes, resembling acupressure-needles, closing the peritoneum and skin.

The uterus, nearly as large as in the adult female, lay between the bladder and rectum, and was enclosed between two layers of peritoneum, to which, on either side of the uterus, were attached the testes.

Every one of these spleens had a capsule, was covered by peritoneum, and exhibited the histologic appearance of splenic tissue.

He died of a purulent diarrhea, all his intestines and peritoneum being in a suppurating condition.

He carefully slices through the layers of muscle and the tough peritoneum, and eases out a couple of inches of gut.

Sir Benjamin Brodie speaks of it as being well known that the inoculation of lymph or pus from the peritoneum of a puerperal patient is often attended with dangerous and even fatal symptoms.

His organs sequence looked good, and the peritoneum was only slightly inflamed.

The patient is compelled to assume a recumbent posture and is inclined to lie on the back, for in that position the sufferer experiences the least pressure of the vital organs against the peritoneum.