Diverticular disease and diverticulitis are related digestive conditions that affect the large intestine (colon). Small bulges develop on the lining of the intestine that become inflamed or infected.
Three conditions that involve the development of small sacs or pockets in the wall of the colon are involved in diverticular disease. These three conditions are diverticulosis, diverticular bleeding, and diverticulitis.
Lower abdominal pain and a bloated feeling are distinctive attributes of diverticular disease while diverticulitis is marked by severe abdominal pain and high temperature fever (100.4ºF or above).
Diverticulitis will recur in 20% to 30% of patients. Roughly one-third of patients treated non-operatively will have a recurrent episode, in many cases within 1 year. Recurrence may be prevented in more than 70% who supplement their diet with fibre long term.
Many of the patients who suffer a recurrent attack have co-existing IBD. Even after a colonic resection, recurrence is approximately 1%.
Diverticulitis can lead to serious complications, most of which are the result of the development of a tear or perforation of the intestinal wall. When this occurs, intestinal waste material can leak out of the intestines and into the surrounding abdominal cavity.
Some complications associated with diverticulitis are discussed below.
The most common complication of diverticulitis is an abscess inside the large intestine (colon). An abscess is a pus-filled cavity or lump in the tissue. Abscesses are usually treated with a technique known as percutaneous abscess drainage (PAD).
In case there is pus surrounding the inflamed tissue, the doctor will drain the fluid by inserting a needle into the infected area. This pus may need a surgery to be cleaned and a part of the colon may be removed.
A fistula is another common complication of diverticulitis. Fistulas are abnormal tunnels that connect two parts of the body together, such as your intestine and your abdominal wall or bladder.
In rare cases, infected diverticula (pouch in your colon) can split, spreading the infection into the lining of your abdomen. An infection of the lining of the abdomen is known as peritonitis.
If the infection has badly scarred your large intestine, it may become partially or totally blocked. A totally blocked large intestine is a medical emergency because the tissue of your large intestine will start to decay and eventually split, leading to peritonitis.
Eating a high-fibre diet may help prevent diverticular disease, and should improve your symptoms. Your diet should be balanced and include at least five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, plus whole grains.
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