Diverticular disease occurs due to the formation of diverticula, which are sacs or pouches, in the colon. Diverticulitis can develop as a result of diverticular disease. These sacs or pouches become blocked or filled by a piece of stool in the colon, leading to inflammation or infection and causing pain. Diverticular disease is correlated with a diet high in red meat, refined sugars and milled flour.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

The majority of patients with diverticulosis remain asymptomatic, but some experience bloating, constipation, bowel irregularity and abdominal discomfort. There is no definite connection of diverticular disease and cancer, but a colonoscopy should be performed for certain patients to determine if colorectal cancer is present.

Diverticulitis symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps or tenderness near stomach
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea

Diverticulitis can reoccur, called recurrent diverticulitis, or can become complicated diverticulitis, which is severe inflammation, abscess or damage.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Mild cases of diverticulitis are treated with antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the diverticulitis, hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics and at times surgery may be required.

Laboratory blood work can reveal evidence of inflammation. Diagnosis is determined based on a person’s symptoms and medical history and may include a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. Surgery is decided upon with the patient, their family and the treating physician and surgeon. If a free perforation, or small hole, is detected surgery is usually required. If there is an abscess (swollen area of body tissue containing puss), it may need to be drained by interventional radiology and occasionally a drain will be temporarily left in place to continue antibiotic treatments.

We have a team of enterostomal therapists dedicated to optimizing your care and recovery.

We routinely perform minimally invasive surgery for diverticulitis if the condition is serious or if the patient is experiencing repeated episodes of diverticulitis. Traditional “open” surgery is for very complicated cases or when a minimally invasive approach is not feasible.

To make an appointment, you will need a physician referral. Physicians can call, 203-688-2000.