This is a common but difficult to diagnose condition in intensive care patients. A proportion of such patients are admitted following laparotomy but others may develop abdominal sepsis de novo or as a secondary complication following abdominal surgery, in particular after bowel resection. Sepsis may either be localised to an organ, e.g. cholecystitis, or the peritoneal cavity (abscess); alternatively, there may be a generalised peritonitis. Non-bowel infection or inflammation can present in a similar manner, e.g. pancreatitis, cholecystitis, gynaecological infection, pyelonephritis.
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