What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is a form of diverticular disease, which occurs when diverticula, small pouches in the wall of the large intestine (colon), push through weak spots in the colon’s outer muscle layers. Inflammation of these diverticula are called diverticulitis.
What Are Symptoms of Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis occurs when there is infection or inflammation of the diverticula.
Early symptoms of symptoms of diverticulitis include:
Abdominal pain (most commonly in the left lower quadrant)
What Causes Diverticulitis?
In Western countries, the diverticulitis is thought to be caused by the classic high-fat and low-fiber diet.
How is Diverticulitis Diagnosed?
Diverticulitis is diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination.
Laboratory tests that may be indicated include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Urine culture
- Stool test for blood
- A pregnancy test for females of childbearing age with abdominal pain
Imaging tests that may be indicated include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen
- Contrast enema, using water-soluble medium
- Abdominal radiographic (X-ray) series
What is the Treatment for Diverticulitis?
Treatment for diverticulitis depends on the severity, complications that may be present, and other underlying medical conditions.
An attack of uncomplicated, mild diverticulitis may go away on its own, but it is important to see a doctor to assess the severity and determine if treatment is needed.
Treatment for mild diverticulitis includes:
- Clear liquid diet for 2-3 days; progress to a soft diet as tolerated
- 7-10 days of oral broad-spectrum antibiotics if needed, such as:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and antispasmodics for pain
In more severe cases, hospitalization may be needed. If hospitalized, treatment may include:
- Clear liquid diet; progress to a soft diet as tolerated
- Intravenous (IV) or oral antibiotics
- Abscesses less than 3 cm: Typically resolved with antibiotics
- Abscesses greater than 4 cm: Drain percutaneously
- Pain management
- Elective surgical resection