Intraperitoneal organs and Retroperitoneal organs

For the Intraperitoneal organs remember SALTD SPRSS (Pronounced Salted Spursss):

S = Stomach

A = Appendix

L = Liver

T = Transverse colon

D = duodenum (only the 1st part, though)

S = Small intestines

P = Pancreas (only the tail though)

R = Rectum (only the upper 3rd)

S = Sigmoid colon

S = Spleen

For retroperitoneal, just remember SADPUCKER:

S = suprarenal glands

A = Aorta and IVC

D = Duodenum (all but the 1st part)

P = Pancreas (all but the tail)

U = Ureter and bladder

C = Colon (ascending and descending)

K = Kidneys

E = Esophagus

R = Rectum (Lower two-thirds)

For secondarily retroperitoneal remember ‘Pussy Cat Dolls“:

P = Pancreas

C = Colon (only ascending and descending)

D = Duodenum (only parts 2-4)


32 thoughts on “Intraperitoneal organs and Retroperitoneal organs

    1. Sorry about the delay getting back to you. I had my boards this week. Looking at figures 77.7 and 77.10 in 40th ed. Gray’s Anatomy Female Reproductive System Chapter (and if you think about it’s relationship with other retroperitoneal structures like the bladder) I believe the female reproductive organs should be considered retroperitoneal.

    1. If you look at the SAD PUCKER mnemonic again for intraperitoneal organs you’ll see that the upper 3rd of the rectum is the R in the mnemonic. However, I would recommend reading Gray’s Anatomy chapter 64 (Peritoneum and peritoneal cavity) for further clarification. Initially in the chapter the rectum is listed as a retroperitoneal organ (with no distinction between upper and lower). Later on it does say the rectum is an extraperitoneal organ. Chapter 67 (Large Intestine) goes into detail of the transition points from retroperitoneal and intraperitoneal on the first page. I would recommend giving that a look as well. It says that usually the rectosigmoid junction is retroperitoneal. It also is labeled as extraperitoneal in Chapter 67. I don’t think those two classifications, retroperitoneal and extraperitoneal, are mutually exclusive.

      Subperitoneal, from my understanding, is a potential space between the retroperitoneum and the mesentery. This is more important for pathology than anatomic structures I think.

      When in doubt, go with what your instructor defines it as. I have found a few different classifications on various websites so for your exam that is going to be the safest bet. As for real life application of this, you really just need to know roughly where things dive down under the peritoneum and where they pop back out because majority of people do not have textbook anatomy.

    2. I think the medical dictionary definitions should help you out:

      – Retro-peritoneal: situated or occurring behind the peritoneum
      – Sub-peritoneal: beneath the peritoneum
      – Extra-peritoneal: outside of the peritoneal cavity.

      (These mostly all seem to mean the same thing, with very little variations. The only one that’s different is Intra-peritoneal)

      – Intra-peritoneal: within the peritoneal cavity

  1. Why do we care though if something is retro or intra? Is there any clinical application other than where to find it surgically?

    1. Good question. So yes, retro versus intra is clinically relevant. Can i tell you as a 4th year every structure that is retroperitoneal? No. However, retroperitoneal bleeds can be a nightmare and knowing what the culprit is (e.g., ruptured aortic aneurysm, kidney or pancreas) is important. They are difficult to see sometimes on imaging and don’t always show anything other than pain on exam. If there was perforation of the retroperitoneal parts of the gut, there may be air in the retroperitoneal space which will help you pinpoint where the perf occurred. Hopefully that helps.

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