Diverticula are small pouches in the colon, most often in the sigmoid colon. People whose colons contain these pockets are diagnosed with a condition known as diverticulosis. A small percentage of people with diverticulosis develop problems related to their diverticulum, such as lower gastrointestinal bleeding, and inflammation and infection of the diverticula — called diverticulitis. Patients with diverticulitis usually experience abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea or constipation. Mild diverticulitis can be treated with changes in diet, antibiotics and rest. Severe and chronic diverticulitis may require surgery.
Colon and rectal surgeons at BWH offer a range of surgical and non-surgical procedures for treating diverticulitis, including:
Patients with uncomplicated diverticulitis may be managed with bowel rest and antibiotics. As episodes become frequent and/or more complicated, elective resection may be advised to avoid further and potentially more involved episodes.
Patients with complicated episodes of diverticulitis, such as intra-abdominal abscess formation, fistulae formation or free perforation of the bowel, may require a colectomy. Most patients recover completely with resumption of normal bowel habits.
You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have diverticulitis and if surgery is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced colon and rectal surgeon are important to the successful outcome for patients with colorectal conditions.
The day of surgery, you will be taken care of in the operating room by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in diverticulitis surgery. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by an experienced surgical and nursing staff.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating diverticulitis. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community with its diverse specialists and state-of-the-art facilities.