WHAT IS DIVERTICULAR DISEASE?
Diverticular disease describes a group of conditions that cause small sacs, or diverticula, to form in the wall of your large intestine (colon), most commonly in the part of the large intestine closest to your rectum. The sacs form due to pressure on the colon wall that forces it to bulge out and form the sacs.
While not clearly understood, your risk for developing diverticular disease increases if you follow a diet that’s high in red meat and low in fiber. The condition also becomes more common as you age.
The two most common types of diverticular disease include:
Diverticulitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the colon and may be the result of the tearing of one of the sacs. As a result, secondary health complications can occur, such as abscesses and rectal bleeding.
Diverticulosis is a condition where sacs form in the large intestine without causing complications. However, the condition can advance into diverticulitis.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIVERTICULAR DISEASE?
If you have diverticulitis, or if you have diverticulosis that progresses, you can experience a variety of symptoms. However, it’s common to not experience any symptoms at all until the disease progresses.
The formation of an abscess, a pus-filled pocket, is common with diverticulitis. This pocket can become infected and may spread throughout your abdomen, causing a life-threatening situation.
Other symptoms of diverticular disease include rectal bleeding or the formation of a stricture or fistula.
A stricture is a narrowing of the colon that slows or prevents waste from traveling through the large intestine, which makes it difficult to pass stool.
A fistula is a tract or tunnel that forms and connects one organ to another or to the skin. Fistulas often connect the colon to the bowel, vagina or skin.
HOW IS DIVERTICULAR DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
If you have rectal bleeding or other symptoms associated with diverticular disease, Dr. Ashwath reviews your medical history and may recommend an abdominal CT scan of the abdomen in addition to a colonoscopy.
HOW IS DIVERTICULAR DISEASE TREATED?
In some cases, they may need to drain the abscess of fluids using X-ray guidance to place the drain.
If you have a rupture in your colon that causes peritonitis, you need emergency surgery. You may also need surgery if you have an abscess that can’t be drained or if you don’t respond to antibiotic therapy.