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Diverticulitis Disease

Diverticular disease is a general name for a common condition that involves small sacs called diverticula that form from the wall of the large intestine.  Although these sacs can form throughout the colon, they are most commonly found in the sigmoid colon, the portion of the colon closest to the rectum.

The two types of diverticular disease

  • Diverticulosis: The presence of diverticula without associated complications or problems. The condition can lead to more serious issues including diverticulitis, perforation (the formation of holes), stricture (a narrowing of the colon that does not easily let stool pass), fistulas (abnormal connection or tunneling between body parts), and bleeding.

 

  • Diverticulitis: An inflammatory condition of the colon thought to be caused by perforation of one of the sacs. Several secondary complications can result from a diverticulitis attack, and when this occurs, it is called complicated diverticulitis.  Complications for diverticulitis include rectal bleeding, colonic stricture, abscess formation, and fistula formation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Causes of Diverticular Disease

The pouches called diverticula develop if you have weak spots in your colon. The weak spots give way, forming pouches on the walls of the colon. If the diverticula tear, it can cause inflammation and infection, known as diverticulitis.

Risk factors for diverticulitis include:

  • Advancing age

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • Lack of exercise

  • High-animal fat/low-fiber diet

 

Some medications also seem to increase your risk of getting diverticulitis. These include steroids, opioids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

 

Complications sometimes occur when you have diverticulitis. You might get an abscess if pus builds up in the diverticula. Scarring can lead to a blockage, or you might get a fistula, an abnormal passage between the bowel and other organs.

 

Peritonitis is another possibility if an infected pouch bursts, letting the contents of your intestines spill into your abdominal cavity. This is an emergency, and you should call 911 or go to the nearest ER if you suspect peritonitis.

 

How is Diverticular Disease Diagnosed?

Patients with diverticulosis often show no symptoms, therefore no diagnostic invention is performed.  It is typically diagnosed during a routine colonoscopy.  However, patients with diverticulitis are often symptomatic and therefore diagnostic imaging such as a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis may be ordered to not only confirm the diagnosis but to determine the severity of the diverticulitis and guide the treatment. 

How is Diverticular Disease Treated?

It is important that symptoms be evaluated by a colon-rectal surgeon before you try self-treatment.  A colon-rectal surgeon will perform a thorough examination and recommend treatment.  The physicians at Connecticut Colon & Rectal Surgery, LLC develop an individualized treatment plan based on your symptoms and examination.

Typically, as a preservative measure, individuals diagnosed with diverticulosis are advised to eat a diet high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables while limiting the intake of red meat.

Most cases of diverticulitis are treated with antibiotics.  Surgery may be required to treat diverticulitis if a patient has any of the following indications:

  • If there is a complication such as an abscess, fistula, obstruction, or puncture in the bowel wall

  • Severe cases that do not respond to maximum medical therapy

  • You have multiple episodes of uncomplicated diverticulitis

  • You have a weak immune system

 

Surgery for diverticular disease usually involves removal of the affected part of the colon, and may or may not involve a colostomy or ileostomy, where a part of the intestine brought out through the abdominal wall to drain into a bag. A decision regarding the type of operation is made with your surgeon on a case-by-case basis.

 

If you believe you are currently suffering from or have previously suffered from diverticulitis and want to relieve your discomfort, give our office a call at

(860) 826-3880 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online.  If appropriate and availability allows, a consultation appointment will be scheduled for you to be seen by one of our experienced physicians, generally, within a two-week timeframe of contacting the office.

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