Meconium peritonitis (MP) occurs when the bowel ruptures in utero or in a neonate, releasing meconium into the peritoneal cavity. This results in a chemical peritonitis.


Causes usually involve a rupture of the small bowel associated with:

(1) intestinal atresia

(2) fetal hydrops with rupture of the appendix

(3) complicated meconium ileus

(4) intussusception

(5) other


According to Dirkes et al, meconium peritonitis can be classified as:

(1) simple: no associated bowel abnormalities

(2) complex: bowel abnormalities present


Clinical findings:

(1) distended abdomen with ascites


Imaging findings seen in the fetus or newborn:

(1) intra-abdominal calcifications

(2) ascites

(3) bowel distention

(4) polyhydramnios

(5) pseudocyst formation


Laboratory findings:

(1) greenish peritoneal fluid

(2) inflammation in the peritoneal fluid, often sterile


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.