Diverticular Disease

What is Diverticular Disease?

In this disease, small pouches occur in the bowel. The condition is common in Western countries, but rare in underdeveloped nations. In recent years this has been attributed to the high-roughage diet of the Third World, contrasted to the almost totally refined diet of the advanced countries. For this reason, the use of more fiber and unprocessed bran in the diet is advocated for the relief of symptoms in uncomplicated cases of diverticulosis.

Diverticular Disease Symptoms

Frequently the pockets fill with fecal material and infection results. Then symptoms tend to develop, and if the disorder advances, considerable discomfort may accrue. The lower part of the large bowel (called the sigmoid colon) is the most common site. In the uncomplicated state, symptoms might be vague and mild, cramp like left-sided discomfort occurring. It is very similar to the “irritable colon” set of symptoms.

When infection sets in, the pain becomes quite severe. It is usually left sided, and there is tenderness over the area affected, the patient developing a high temperature.

With medication, the attack may completely resolve. However, complications may set in, particularly if the infected pouch weakens and ruptures. It may rupture into the general abdominal cavity or into an adjacent organ. An abscess may form, with the passage of blood and mucus, or this may also rupture externally into the abdominal cavity.

Diverticular Disease Treatment

Many cases settle down with rest, antibiotics and fluids. However, surgery is indicated if perforation occurs or there are serious signs of the infection spreading in the abdomen. This may develop quickly into a surgical emergency, necessitating expert medical assistance.