The peritoneum is a serous membrane, which has a protective function for the contents of the abdominal cavity. It maintains homeostasis by allowing exchange of molecules and production of peritoneal fluid, thus providing an environment in which intra-abdominal organs can function properly. When traumatized, whether by surgery or due to inflammatory processes, a series of responses come into action to regenerate the injured part of the peritoneum. The inflammatory reaction causes influx of inflammatory cells but also activates resident mesothelial cells, ultimately leading to a fibrinous exudate. Depending on the severity of the trauma this exudate is transient due to fibrinolysis, or becomes more dense as a result of fibroblasts persisting, leading to fibrinous adhesions. A pivotal role is taken by the enzyme plasmin and its promotors and inhibitors; it is mainly the tissue-type plasminogen activator/plasminogen activator inhibitor ratio which determines the rate of fibrinolysis and therefore the rate of adhesion formation. The rate of injury determines the rate and extent of the inflammatory response to that injury; in its turn the inflammatory reaction determines the extent of adhesion formation. One should realize this when performing intra-abdominal surgery, which is in fact operating inside the peritoneal organ.

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Colorectal Disease
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van der Wal, J. B. C., & Jeekel, H. (2007). Biology of the peritoneum in normal homeostasis and after surgical trauma. Colorectal Disease, 9(SUPPL. 2), 9–13. doi:10.1111/j.1463-1318.2007.01345.x