Diverticulosis disease is probably one the most common diseases of our western world. One major cause of the disease is a low fiber diet. In the United States it has been predicted that probably one third of the population over the age of 50 is prone to develop diverticulosis and about two thirds by 80 years of age. The most common found cases of the disease focus on the descending colon and the sigmoid. The acute inflammation of the diverticula is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can be widely classified from uncomplicated to complicated.
The disease may require as little as a change in diet to improve the condition or could lead to surgical treatment for diverticulitis. Patients with uncomplicated diverticulitis are most likely to respond to various forms of medical management without requiring surgery. More complicated cases of diverticulitis may require surgical treatment for diverticulitis. Patients that do not respond to medical management, have reoccurring attacks, and those with specific complications are most likely to be directed to surgical treatment for diverticulitis.
It is very important for patients with uncomplicated diverticulitis to manage the condition as instructed by a health care professional. Patients should also ask questions and make sure instructions from the doctor are clearly understood. Also familiarizing yourself with worsening symptoms is very important, catching a complication early may prevent you from have to receive surgical treatment for diverticulitis.
In the past, certain guidelines from surgical associations have recommended an outline for indication for surgical treatment of diverticulitis.
That outline includes specifications such as:
- More than two attacks of diverticulitis successfully treated medically
- One attack that requires hospitalization in a patient under 40yrs of age
- One attack with evidence of contained perforation, colonic obstruction or inflammatory involvement of the urinary tract
- The inability to rule out a colonic carcinoma
There is more recent data that challenges these guidelines used by surgical doctors in the past. Surgical treatment for diverticulitis may not be necessary after any specific number of episodes of uncomplicated diverticulitis, or with any age stipulations. Most patients can be treated without surgical treatment for diverticulitis. Less invasive laparoscopic techniques are now being performed for patients with diverticular disease.
As with any type of surgery you should know the risks of the procedures before making a decision. The risks with surgical treatment of diverticulitis include bleeding, anastigmatic leak with associated infection, and inadvertent injury to adjacent organs. The risk of these surgical complications may be increased with emergency surgical treatments for diverticulitis. In older patients the risk may be higher for surgical treatment for diverticulitis due to co-existing conditions commonly found in the elderly such as cardiac and pulmonary disease.
The decision to resort to surgical treatment for diverticulitis should be made only in the event of an emergency complication or after other options have been explored and been found unsuccessful in the treatment of diverticulitis. Many cases of diverticulitis occur without the need for surgical treatment. Studies show that the disease diverticulosis which causes diverticulitis to occur can be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management. Always seek a professional opinion when addressing your health concerns, individual cases of diseases can vary by patient.