Like other parts of the body, the abdominal cavity contains a protective layering that is known as the peritoneum. The peritoneum is lined a layer of mesothelium and a thin layer of connective tissue. Its primary function is to protect the organs that are within that specific area and contain fluid to allow free flow of movement between organs. There are two distinctive layers that are important to the makeup of the protective covering. The first layer is known as the parietal (or the outer layer) and it is connected to the abdomen itself. The second layer is known as the visceral (or the inner layer) and wraps itself around the internal organs of the abdomen. Fluid is found between these two layers (around 50mL) and it allow for the free flow of movement and lessening of frictions between organs and tissue. There are also two folds of the peritoneum that serve as importance to its function. First, the omentum is located in front of the stomach and intestines. Second, the mesentery is the layer that attaches to the small intestine and some of the large intestine. There are many folds within the entire gastrointestinal cavity, and the peritoneum works to ensure that the entire cavity is performing normal functions.
There are instances, however, where the peritoneum can form complications. One of the most serious types of complications is mesothelioma cancer. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause scarring in tissues of lining around the heart, abdomen/pelvis and most frequently, the lungs. This is one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos ingestion. Typically, if these fibers make it to effect the abdominal cavity, they are most likely traveling through the lymph system. Symptoms for this type of complication are typical to other forms of mesothelioma, but some patients may experience inflammation, pain, and extreme bloating in the abdominal/pelvis region. Most of the time, doctors will examine the patient and the questionable area for tumors and cell masses. This type of cancer is most frequently associated with cancerous cells development in the form of tumors or lumps within the tissues and organs. Different mesothelioma treatment options are used depending on what is diagnosed. With any form of mesothelioma, however, the success rate is quite low. It is important for the individual to be checked immediately if they have ever been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime or of sign and symptoms are progressing. Disruption of the peritoneum can cause dangerous effects to surrounding organs and cancer cells can corrupt the environment around them if not treated properly.
Last modified: December 28, 2010.