A patient's liability to septic peritonitis following abdominal section or wounds involving the peritoneum depends manifestly on two factors: First, the virulence and number of the micro-organisms introduced, and, second, the vital resistance of the individual patient.
Concerning the first of these factors volumes have been written; as to the second, however, there is a singular paucity of references in the literature of surgery. To emphasize the rôle of the individual resistance of the patient in preventing or favoring peritonitis is the motive of this article. I consulted several systems of surgery without finding any mention of the varying susceptibility of different patients to post-operative peritonitis. H. A. Kelly, however, gives recognition to the importance of the patient's condition in the following language:
"The more we learn of infectious processes the more we are convinced that the vital resistance of the patient plays an important, if not the greatest, part in the resistance to infection.