Infections in the retroperitoneal space are a serious surgical problem associated with prolonged morbidity and high mortality. To reduce this, they must be diagnosed early and treated adequately.
Infections of the peritoneum have always been a challenge to the surgeon, but little attention has been paid to the retroperitoneal tissues or to the effect on them of the infectious processes. The dramatic clinical picture of acute peritonitis immediately alerts the physician to undertake prompt and aggressive action. In contrast, the clinical picture of a retroperitoneal infection is more subtle and latent, and often misleading; consequently the diagnosis is delayed and the treatment often inadequate.1 Hence, a review of our experience with this entity over the past ten years may prove useful.
Anatomically, the retroperitoneum is a potential space between the peritoneum lining the posterior aspect of the abdominal cavity and the musculature of the lumbar and iliac regions.