Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis (cont.)
Most people recover fully after treatment. If not treated promptly, however, diverticulitis can lead to the following more serious conditions:
- Perforation: A hole in the intestine caused when the diverticular pouch bursts because of increased pressure and infection within the intestine.
- Peritonitis: A more serious infection of the abdominal cavity that often occurs after perforation, when the contents of the intestine leak out into the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) outside of the intestine.
- Abscess: A pocket of infection that is very difficult to cure with antibiotics.
- Fistula: An abnormal connection between the colon and another organ that occurs when the colon damaged by infection comes in contact with another tissue, such as the bladder, the small intestine, or the inside of the abdominal wall, and sticks to it. Fecal material from the colon can then get into the other tissue. This often causes a severe infection. If fecal material gets into the bladder, for example, the resulting urinary tract infection can become recurrent and very difficult to cure.
- Blockage or obstruction of the intestine
- Bleeding in the intestine
Individuals younger than 40 years of age who have depressed immune systems from medications or other illnesses have a greater chance of having complications and having to undergo surgery.
Approximately one-half of people who have diverticulitis will have a relapse within seven years after the condition is treated and in remission.
Of the people who are admitted to a hospital for diverticulitis, some develop complications that require surgery.
Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American board of Surgery
Bogardus ST. What do we know about diverticular disease? A brief overview.
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2006;40:S108–S111
Up-to-Date. Diverticular Disease.
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis.
WebMD.com. Nuts Don't Up Risk of Diverticulitis.
Previous contributing authors and editors: Author: Vikhyat Bebarta, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Denver Health Medical Center.
Kennon Heard, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Editors: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM, Research Director, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; James S Cohen, MD, Consulting Staff, James Cohen, PC.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/29/2014
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