Diverticulosis is extremely common in Western society. Approximately 50% of people over the age of 60 have diverticulae in their colon. Diverticulae are small pockets protruding from the colon. They are created by a life long history of high pressure in the colon from a relative lack of dietary fiber. Added fiber reduces colonic pressure. Diverticulosis is very uncommon in the third world nations because of high fiber dietary intake.
Approximately 10% of people with diverticulosis will have complications with their diverticulae. This usually presents as infection or diverticulitis. The hallmarks of this is fever, left lower abdominal pain and elevated white blood cell count. The diagnosis is usually confirmed with a CT scan. Uncomplicated diverticulitis can usually be treated effectively with antibiotics and fiber supplements. Avoidance of popcorn and nuts is recommended.
In complicated or recurrent diverticulitis, surgery is usually indicated. This entails surgical resection of the diseased segment of bowel. If non emergent, this usually can be performed laparoscopically. If there is a perforation of the bowel with extensive infection, emergent surgery is indicated with the formation of a temporary colostomy as well as resection of the diseased segment of bowel.
It is usually the sigmoid colon diverticulae that cause problems because of the high pressures elicited in this segment of colon as oppossed to the other areas. Scattered diverticulae in other areas of the colon will usually never become a problem.
For more information please visit:
The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons