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Diverticular Disease

Doctor and Patient

DHI offers the latest personalized treatments for diverticular disease & diverticulitis.

The gastroenterologists and colon and rectal surgeons at AdventHealth Tampa’s Digestive Health Institute are experts in creating personalized treatment plans for patients with diverticular disease. If complications arise, such as diverticulitis and related health issues, DHI’s doctors are experienced in providing the least invasive, most effective treatment options.

What Are Diverticulitis & Diverticulosis?

As people grow older, the chances increase that they will develop diverticular disease. It begins as the muscles in the walls of the colon become weaker. When they get weak enough, small pouches called diverticula develop in the lining of the colon. This is a condition called diverticulosis. It affects up to half of the people in the U.S. over the age of 60, though it can happen to people as young as 30. Most people with diverticulosis do not experience symptoms. When diverticulosis does cause symptoms, they tend to be mild and similar to irritable bowel syndrome or another gastrointestinal condition.

Diverticulosis symptoms can include:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild cramping in the abdomen

Diverticulitis

If the diverticula in the colon lining become infected and swollen, it causes a painful condition called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can lead to complications that require hospitalization and/or colorectal surgery.

Causes of Diverticular Disease

Because diverticulosis is a condition of aging, it is thought to be unpreventable in many cases. Once the diverticula have formed, there do appear to be some risk factors for why they become inflamed and infected and cause diverticulitis. One of these factors is a family history of diverticulitis.

Preventable factors related to diverticulitis include:

  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Being overweight
  • Taking steroids

If you have been diagnosed with diverticulosis, you and your care team can take steps to lower your chances of it causing diverticulitis. You may be encouraged to make certain dietary changes (with more – or possibly less – fiber in your diet), get more exercise, lose weight and/or quit smoking. If you experience symptoms with diverticulosis, your gastroenterologist may prescribe certain medications that can help.

Diverticulitis Symptoms

However, despite the best medical management, diverticular disease may still lead to diverticulitis.

Symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness, especially on the lower left side
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Diagnosis of Diverticulosis or Diverticulitis

If your doctor suspects you may have diverticulosis or diverticulitis, you will be given a physical and digital rectal exam. In addition, your gastroenterologist will use some of the following tests to reach an accurate diagnosis:

  • Blood tests, including liver function tests
  • Urine tests

  • CT scan
  • Barium enema (lower GI series)
  • Colonoscopy

Diverticulitis Treatment

Treatment for diverticulitis often depends on the severity of symptoms, if diverticulitis has happened before or not, and if there are diverticulitis-related symptoms such as an intestinal blockage.

Medical Care for Diverticulitis

Medical treatments for diverticulitis symptoms include:

  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Pain medications
  • Liquid diet and bed rest
  • Diet changes (e.g., high fiber and/or low residue diets)

Surgery for Diverticulitis

Patients with diverticulitis are at risk of developing a bowel obstruction, fistula or abscess as well as a dangerous condition called peritonitis. In these cases, colorectal surgery may be needed. Your doctor may also recommend surgery if you experience chronic, severe or recurring diverticulitis so you can find better relief from your symptoms. Finally, surgery may be the best option for some patients with weakened immune systems.

Surgery for diverticulitis usually involves a bowel resection with or without a colostomy. The advanced colon and rectal surgeons at DHI have ways of offering colorectal surgery as minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic procedures. These less invasive approaches help patients avoid a large, open abdominal incision, making recovery easier and faster than what would usually be experienced otherwise.

If you have or could have diverticular disease and are looking for a comprehensive GI care team to better manage your condition, call DHI at (813) 615-7557 for an appointment.

SURGICAL CONSULTATIONS FOR DIGESTIVE CANCER Without The Wait

APPOINTMENTS WITHIN 5 DAYS FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER

At DHI, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion.

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait.
Call the Digestive Health Institute at (813) 615-7440.

Learn more about our Surgical Cancer Care program.

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