What Is a Diverticulum?
A diverticulum is an abnormal sac or pouch that forms in the wall of a major organ in the body.
Types of diverticulum include:
- Small intestine (Meckel's diverticulum)
- Esophageal diverticula
- Pharynx (Zenker's diverticulum)
- Epiphrenic (lower esophageal sphincter)
- Killian-Jamieson diverticulum
- Colon (diverticulitis/diverticulosis)
- Duodenal and jejunal diverticulum (congenital lesions)
- Gallbladder (Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses)
- Kidney (calyceal diverticulum)
- Urethra (tends to occur following infectious in females, and are congenital in males)
- Cardiac (rare malformation of the heart present at birth that is usually benign)
- Aorta (diverticulum of Kommerell)
What Are Symptoms of a Diverticulum?
Symptoms of a diverticulum vary depending on the organ involved. Symptoms of some common types of diverticula include:
- Large intestine (diverticulitis or diverticulosis)
- Small intestine (Meckel’s diverticulum)
- Pharynx and esophagus (Zenker's diverticulum)
What Causes a Diverticulum?
Causes for diverticulum vary.
Causes of diverticulum in the colon (diverticulitis/diverticulosis) include:
- Increased pressure on the intestinal wall from inside the intestine due to
- Hard stools
- Frequent straining during bowel movements
- Diets low in fiber
- Meckel’s diverticulum in the small intestine is caused by a bulge left over from the umbilical cord. It is present from birth.
Causes of diverticulum in the urethra include:
- Chronic or recurrent bladder or urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women
- Birth defect in men
Diverticulum in the pharynx and esophagus (Zenker's diverticulum) involve malfunctioning of the cricopharyngeal muscle and weakness of the esophagus wall caused by:
How Is a Diverticulum Diagnosed?
A medical history and physical exam can help diagnose diverticulum. In addition, tests for various diverticulum depend on the organ suspected and may include:
What Is the Treatment for a Diverticulum?
Treatment for diverticulitis/diverticulosis includes:
Treatment for Meckel's diverticulum includes:
- Surgical removal if it is causing symptoms
Treatment for urethral diverticulum includes:
- Applying pressure with the fingers on the suburethral mass after urinating
- Periodic needle aspiration
- Antibiotic prophylaxis for recurrent UTIs
Treatment for diverticulum in the pharynx and esophagus (Zenker's diverticulum) includes:
- Non-surgical endoscopic technique
What Are Complications of a Diverticulum?
Complications of a diverticulum include:
- Recurrent symptoms
- Need for additional surgery
- Bowel perforation (diverticulitis/diverticulosis)
- Peritonitis - serious infection of the abdominal cavity (diverticulitis/diverticulosis)
- Blockage or obstruction of the intestine (diverticulitis/diverticulosis)
- Bleeding in the intestine (diverticulitis/diverticulosis)
- Abscess (pocket of infection)
- Fistula (abnormal connection between one organ and another organ – often causes a severe infection)
- Kidney stones (urethral diverticulum)
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs caused by urethral diverticulum)
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