Diverticula and Diverticulitis
Diverticula are pouches that can form in the walls of your colon.
A healthy colon is lined with muscles that help move stool through your colon, into your rectum, and out your body. Without enough fiber and water in your digestive system, stool becomes hard and pressure builds up inside your colon. That extra pressure can cause the lining of the colon wall to bulge out into diverticula. It is a common condition, especially after age 40, and seldom causes problems.
However, when the diverticula become infected or inflamed, you develop a condition called diverticulitis. The exact cause of diverticulitis is unknown, but it may occur when stool lodges in the openings of diverticula, causing the pouches to swell. Swelling can make the wall of the pouch thinner, allowing bacteria from the bowel to infect the cells in the lining. Symptoms of diverticulitis and infection may include changes in bowel habits, severe pain in your lower left abdomen, fever, and chills. If the infection and inflammation becomes severe, the diverticula may rupture, causing infection of abdominal cavity.
Treating Diverticulitis with Diet Modifications and Medication
The most important thing after being diagnosed with diverticulitis is to take rapid action and to follow your doctor’s instructions. Treatment could be as simple as making dietary changes and taking medications. If you have a mild case of diverticulitis, it may be treated with a temporary liquid diet and oral antibiotics. Severe cases of infection may need hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. Once your colon has rested and the inflammation has resolved, you’ll start increasing the high-fiber foods in your diet.
The Procedure – Colorectal Surgery
If other treatments for diverticulitis do not control the inflammation and infection, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgical treatments for diverticulitis often involve minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic surgery. These techniques use sophisticated tools and advanced technology to carry out procedures through the smallest necessary incision. Minimally invasive colorectal surgery can help you recover quicker and minimize disruption to nearby tissue and organs. During a colon resection, damaged colon tissue is removed. The surgeon is nearly always able to connect the remaining sections of the colon so that you can retain normal bowel functioning. Your doctor will discuss the best option for you at your appointment.