What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is an inflammation of a diverticulum (diverticulitis) when there is thinning and breakdown of the diverticular wall. This may be caused by increased pressure within the colon or by hardened particles of stool, which can become lodged within the diverticulum.
The symptoms of diverticulitis depend upon the degree of inflammation present. The most common symptom is pain in the left lower abdomen. Other symptoms can include fever, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and urinary symptoms such as pain or burning when urinating or the frequent need to urinate.
Diverticulitis can be divided into simple and complicated forms:
- Simple diverticulitis which accounts for 75 percent of cases, is not associated with complications and typically responds to medical treatment without surgery
- Complicated diverticulitis occurs in 25 percent of cases and usually requires surgery
Complications associated with diverticulitis can include the following:
- Abscess – a localized collection of pus
- Fistula – an abnormal tract between two areas that are not normally connected
- Obstruction – a blockage of the colon
- Peritonitis – infection involving the space around the abdominal organ
- Sepsis – overwhelming body-wide infection that can lead to failure of multiple organs
How is Diverticulitis diagnosed?
Diverticulosis is often found in the tests listed below:
- Barium enema – This is an x-ray study that uses barium in an enema to view the outline of the lower intestinal tract. This is an older test and has been largely replaced by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) scan.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This is an examination of the inside of the sigmoid colon with a thin, flexible tube that contains a camera.
- Colonoscopy – This is an examination of the inside of the entire colon.
- CT or MR scan – A CT or MR scan is often used to diagnose diverticulitis and its complications. If diverticulitis (not just diverticulosis) is suspected, the above three tests should not be used because of the risk of perforation.
Scheduling a visit: what should I do before my visit?
Before your visit, obtain reports of any prior procedures (colonoscopies, endoscopies or surgeries) and imaging reports (CT or MR scans). If you have been seen by a gastroenterologist, obtain a report of that visit and send us those medical records.
Our team aims to make patient education a priority. Please write down your visit expectations and any questions you may have. It is important to us that we meet your expectations and answer all of your questions. Our goal is to develop a personalized treatment plan to get your disease into remission the safest way possible.
What to expect on your first visit
On your first visit you will meet with the office staff to review your medications, allergies and history. If you sent your records ahead of time your physician may have reviewed them prior to your visit. Your physician will sit down with you to take a detailed history of your previous medical and surgical therapies, with review of information from your records. To assess your current disease activity, your physician will order the necessary blood tests and diagnostic procedures including possible endoscopy, if you have not had any. With all of this information, your physician will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to get your disease under control.
Using our team-based approach we will work to develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Call 612-624-9709 to schedule an appointment with an expert today.