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March 8, 1965

Meconium Peritonitis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.

JAMA. 1965;191(10):857-858. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080100075024

MECONIUM PERITONITIS is a sterile chemical peritonitis that occurs in utero or during birth as the result of a communication between the intestinal tract and the peritoneal cavity. If peritoneal contamination continues after the first 24 hours of life, secondary bacterial peritonitis will ensue. The condition is rare; Bendel and Michel report three cases in 108,744 consecutive live births at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.1

Meconium peritonitis usually presents itself as intestinal obstruction on the first to seventh day of life. There have been cases reported of a rupture of the gastrointestinal tract without associated anomalies; more frequently, however, there is a mechanical obstruction distal to the site of perforation. The most common causes of obstruction are atresia, stenosis, inspissated meconium, or volvulus. The x-ray picture of the abdomen is classical, with findings of intestinal obstruction and fine granular intra-abdominal calcifications.4 These calcifications are calcified salt deposits of