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Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis (cont.)

Diverticulitis Diagnosis

The health care practitioner will ask the patient questions about his or her symptoms, lifestyle and habits, and medical and surgical history.

  • The physical exam will probably include a "digital rectal examination" in which a health care practitioner inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to try to find a cause for bleeding or pain.
  • Blood tests may be performed to access signs of blood loss or infection, evaluate the function of the kidneys and liver, or to rule out other medical conditions that could be causing similar symptoms.
  • X-rays of organs in the abdomen may be ordered to assist in identifying the cause of the patient's symptoms.
  • CT scans are similar to an X-ray except they are able to visualize the organs better and often provide the health care practitioner with more useful information. One drawback with CT scans is that they are more expensive, and take longer to perform.
  • A colonoscopy is a procedure performed using a flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end, called an endoscope. The endoscope is inserted into the rectum and further up into the colon. The endoscope provides a direct view of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. The procedure is relatively painless and usually takes 30 to 45 minutes. Patients may be given a sedative medication to relax during the procedure.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure performed with a flexible sigmoidoscope that has a tiny camera at the end of the sigmoidoscope. The patient lays on his or her left side while the instrument is inserted through the anus and advanced through the rectum and colon. This procedure is relatively painless and takes about five minutes.

Sometimes diverticulosis is discovered during a screening colonoscopy. The American Cancer Society and the United States Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer recommend colonoscopies every 10 years for people older than 50 years to detect early signs of colon cancer. If an individual's family medical history includes a close relative diagnosed with colon cancer, they may need to begin screening at an earlier age. Consult a gastroenterologist for guidelines.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/29/2014
Medical Editor:

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Diverticulitis »

Diverticula are small mucosal herniations protruding through the intestinal layers and the smooth muscle along the natural openings created by the vasa recta or nutrient vessels in the wall of the colon.

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