Reasons, Procedure, Preparation & Risks Involved In a Peritoneal Fluid Culture Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What Is Peritoneal Fluid?

Peritoneal fluid is the lubricating fluid found in the peritoneal cavity. The peritoneal cavity is the space between the abdominal organs (such as the stomach, spleen, liver and gall bladder) and the membranes which line the wall of the abdomen.

The peritoneal fluid is a clear, sterile fluid which is mostly water along with some white blood cells, antibodies, electrolytes and other bio-chemicals. The main function of the peritoneal fluid is to ease friction caused by the movement of the abdominal organs, as they move around in the abdominal cavity.

Reason Why It is Conducted

Healthy persons normally have a small amount of peritoneal fluid in their peritoneal cavity. But certain problems can lead to accumulation of excess fluid in this cavity. This fluid, which is called ascitic fluid, can lead to a condition called ascites, which is one of the complications caused by cirrhosis. Certain infections and micro-organisms can also cause peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the peritoneal membrane.

In such cases, a peritoneal fluid culture is required to diagnose the problem and begin treatment.

Peritoneal Fluid Culture

This is a laboratory test performed by taking a sample of peritoneal fluid and identifying the micro-organisms, bacteria or fungi that are causing the infection.


A small sample of peritoneal fluid is extracted by means of an abdominal tap and sent to the laboratory where it undergoes a culture preparation and gram stain.


  • You will be required to empty your bladder before undergoing the abdominal tap.
  • A small section of the abdomen will be cleaned with antiseptic.
  • You will be given a local anesthesia.
  • A needle will then be inserted to draw out the fluid. You may feel a pressure when the needle is being inserted.
  • You might feel a little light-headed or dizzy if a large amount of fluid is extracted.

Risks Involved

There is a slight risk that the needle may puncture the bladder, bowel or a blood vessel. This can result in perforation and bleeding, or infection of the bowel.

Ovarian and cervical cancers are the leading causes of cancer in women, leading to death. The progress of this disease is very insidious, because very often there are hardly any symptoms, and the cancer may be in a very advanced stage before it is discovered. Cytological examination of peritoneal fluid is very helpful in detecting the presence of cancer cells or other genetic abnormalities in ovarian and cervical cancer, at an early stage.