Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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Peritoneum

The peritoneum is a thin membrane that lines the walls of the abdominal cavity and covers much of the viscera. The parietal peritoneum lines the walls of the cavity and the visceral peritoneum covers the viscera. Between the parietal and visceral layers of peritoneum is a potential space called as the peritoneal cavity.

Abdominal viscera are either suspended in the peritoneal cavity by folds of peritoneum called as mesenteries or are outside the peritoneal cavity. Organs suspended in the cavity are referred to as intraperitoneal and organs outside the peritoneal cavity, with only one surface or part of one surface covered by peritoneum, are retroperitoneal.

The peritoneal cavity is subdivided further into the greater sac and the omental bursa:
  • the greater sac accounts for most of the space in the peritoneal cavity, beginning superiorly at the diaphragm and continuing inferiorly into the pelvic cavity-it is entered once the parietal peritoneum has been penetrated;
  • the omental bursa is a smaller subdivision of the peritoneal cavity posterior to the stomach and liver and is continuous with the greater sac through an opening, the omental foramen.

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