Peritoneal spaces

Last revised by Arlene Campos on 12 Jan 2024

Peritoneal spaces are separate compartments within the peritoneal cavity.

These spaces are separated or compartmentalized by various peritoneal ligaments and their attachments. 

The supra- and inframesocolic spaces are divided by the root of transverse mesocolon. The left inframesocolic space communicates with the pelvis, except at the sigmoid mesocolon. Both paracolic gutters (part of intramesocolic spaces) communicate freely with the pelvis. However, the left paracolic gutter is separated from the supramesocolic space by the phrenicocolic ligament 3.

The supramesocolic space is divided into left and right by the falciform ligament 3.

In males, the peritoneum forms a closed sac while in females, the peritoneum is open due to the communication of the Fallopian tubes with the peritoneal spaces 3.

The peritoneal cavity can be divided into the following spaces:

In the developing embryo, mesentery divides the celomic cavity into right and left halves. It suspends developing liver, stomach, spleen, and pancreas in the midline from ventral to dorsal fashion 2. The liver suspends within the ventral mesentery while the spleen suspends within the dorsal mensentery 2.

As the embyro continues to grow, these organs migrate in an counterclockwise direction. The developing liver migrates to the right side while the spleen migrates to the left side. Above the transverse mesolon, the right celomic cavity becomes the perihepatic space and the lesser sac, while the left celomic cavity becomes the left subphrenic space 2.

The ventral mesentery give rise to several ligaments e.g. falciform ligament, gastrohepatic ligament, and hepaticoduodenal ligament. The dorsal mesentery give rise to ligaments such as gastrophrenic, gastrosplenic, splenorenal, phrenicocolic ligament, and gastrocolic ligaments 2. The dorsal mesentery also give rise to small bowel mesentery, transverse mesocolon, and sigmoid mesocolon 2.

The peritoneal spaces are important in peritoneal diseases, ascites, intraperitoneal collections or peritoneal metastases.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: pelvic peritoneal spaces
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  • Case 1: intraperitoneal bladder rupture outlining peritoneum
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