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Generalized faecal peritonitis is associated with a mortality of over 50% in most series of cases. Despite great improvements in the standards of intensive care the morbidity and mortality associated with this condition have not improved, in part due to recurrent intra-abdominal sepsis. This preliminary study investigated the role of laparotomy, repeated abdominal lavage and debridement to determine whether such a policy might lead to an improvement in outcome. Of six cases studied three had perforated diverticular disease, two had Crohn's disease. Twenty lavages were performed on these six patients who had a mean ICU stay of 8 days. Five out of the six patients left hospital and remain well, one patient died of septicaemia and pre-existing renal failure. This study found that laparotomy, repeated abdominal lavage and debridement may be effective in reducing the morbidity and mortality of generalized faecal peritonitis and further study of this technique is appropriate.