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Classification & external resources
Frontal chest X-ray. The air bubble below the right hemidiaphragm (on the left of the image) is a pneumoperitoneum.
ICD-10 K66.8
ICD-9 568.89, 770.2
DiseasesDB 31511
eMedicine radio/562 
MeSH D011027



Pneumoperitoneum is air or gas in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity[1], often seen on x-ray, but small amounts are often missed and CT is nowadays regarded as a criterion standard in the assessment of a pneumoperitoneum.[2], CT can visualize quantities as small as 5 cm³ of air or gas. The most common cause is a perforated abdominal viscus, generally a perforated ulcer, although any part of the bowel may perforate from a benign ulcer, tumor or trauma. A perforated appendix seldom causes a pneumoperitoneum.

A pneumoperitoneum is deliberately created by the surgical team in order to perform laparoscopic surgery. This is achieved by insufflating the abdomen with carbon dioxide.


  • Perforated peptic ulcer
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Ruptured diverticulum
  • Penetrating trauma
  • Ruptured inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. megacolon)
  • Necrotising enterocolitis/Pneumatosis coli
  • Bowel Cancer
  • Ischemic bowel
  • Steroids
  • After laparotomy
  • After laparoscopy
  • Break down of a surgical anastomosis
  • Bowel injury after endoscopy
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Vaginal insufflation (air enters via the fallopian tubes, e.g. water-skiing, oral sex)
  • Colonic or peritoneal infection
  • From chest (e.g. bronchopleural fistula)

Subphrenic abscess, bowel interposed between diaphragm and liver (Chilaiditi syndrome), and linear atelectasis at the base of the lungs can simulate free air under the diaphragm on a chest x-ray.

See also


  1. ^ The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary. KMLE American Heritage Medical Dictionary definition of pneumoperitoneum.
  2. ^ Ali Nawaz Khan. Pneumoperitoneum.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pneumoperitoneum". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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