Diverticula are small pouches that can formanywhere in the digestive system. They are thought todevelop as a result of high pressure or abnormal pressure in the colon.Diverticulitis occurs when one or more of these pouches become infected orinflamed. This is a common digestive disease particularly found in the largeintestine.
Diverticulitis is most common after the age of forty. Althoughone may have diverticulosis (the diverticula are present in the intestines), that does not mean that they will havediverticulitis. These pouches actually seldom cause any health problems.
Causes and Symptoms
This condition is caused by an inflammation of thediverticula. However, what brings about this inflammation is still unclear. One reason could be the increased pressure in the coloncan lead to breakdown of the wall of the diverticula, thus leading to an infection. Second one is that the narrow openings of diverticula may trap fecal matter, whichcan also lead to infection. However,none of these theories have been proven.
The common symptoms ofdiverticulitis are: abdominal pain, nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting,fever, change in bowel habits, chills, weight loss, and abdominal tenderness, etc.Less commonly, it can lead to rectal bleeding and bloating.
Treatment options for thiscondition may include antibiotics or surgery. However, it is more common thatacute diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics in order to kill the bacteria.
Surgery is considered to be an option when the patient hasan abscess, a perforation in the colon, fistula, etc. Actually, most of thetime when a person requires a diverticulitis surgery, they have had these complicationsfrom the disease. Also, if one is experiencing repeated attacks of this disease(which usually get worse as they reappear), surgery is recommended as a form oftreatment. There are various types of surgery that can be performed, and theseinclude:
Sigmoidectomy. This is the removal of the sigmoid portion of the colon (thelast section before the rectum). This procedure can be offered after twoattacks of diverticulitis that do not form fistulas or other surgical problems. Surgery is normally done to prevent a future episode that would requireemergency operation.
There are various factors to be considered when recommendingthis type of surgery to the patient, and these are: the patent’s overall healthand lifestyle, as well as the frequency of the attacks, and the problems thatare caused with each attack.
Primary bowel resection. In this procedure, the surgeonremoves the deceased part of the intestine, and then reconnects the healthysegments.Colostomy. In this procedure, the surgeon makes an opening in the abdominal wall. The unaffectedpart of the colon is then connected to the opening, and waste passes throughthe opening into a bag. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent.
Often, sigmoidectomy isperformed to prevent the need for colostomy.