Diverticula (a sac or pocket that develops in the wall of a body structure) are often found in the colon, usually in the left side. Diverticulitis is the term used when a patient has a perforated diverticulum, a hole that can be very tiny. This perforation may lead to an abscess or an infection in the abdominal cavity. Another serious problem caused by a diverticulum is massive bleeding. Such bleeding is not associated with the infection of diverticulitis. Patients do not have a perforation and massive bleeding of a diverticulum at the same time.

Symptoms

A patient may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Fever

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of diverticular disease requires the following:

  1. A complete medical history and physical examination.
  2. Your surgeon may order a series of tests that will help to confirm a diagnosis of diverticular disease. These may include:
    • Blood tests
    • A CT scan (computerized tomography) is used to show sites of infection near diverticula.
    • At some point a colonoscopy is performed to see the diverticula and make sure there is no other tumor or disease.

Treatment

Diverticulitis may be treated by antibiotics and bowel rest (i.e., temporarily stopping solid foods). For patients with an abscess or whose attacks do not respond to antibiotics or who have frequent, repeated diverticulitis attacks may need surgery.

Surgery

Surgical procedures may include:

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