Surgical Treatment for Diverticular Disease

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Diverticular disease may develop in two ways. First, when small sacs called diverticula appear in the wall of the large intestine, also known as the colon, the patient has diverticulosis. After a certain age, many people have these sacs and they may not cause any symptoms. Diverticulitis comes about when the sacs become inflamed. Diverticulitis in Beverly Hills presents as cramping and abdominal pain that may become excruciating. Fever, nausea and tenderness over the affected area of the large intestine are also present.

An inflamed diverticulum can rupture and infect the patient’s abdominal cavity. The infection can spread throughout the body and threaten the patient’s life. An inflamed diverticulum can also block the colon. A non-inflamed diverticulum can bleed so much that it compromises the patient’s health. In these cases, a partial colectomy is required to remove the diseased part of the colon.

Traditionally, the partial colectomy was a very invasive surgery that required a large incision. Now, surgeons are turning more and more to laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery operates with much smaller incisions than the usual colectomy, and the surgeon is guided by a video monitor attached to a tiny camera that enters the abdominal cavity. With laparoscopic surgery, the patient may have a shorter recovery time.

During the colectomy, the surgeon finds the diseased area of the colon and removes it. The surgeon then reconnects the two ends of the healthy colon back together. On occasion, there may be a need for a temporary colostomy which diverts the fecal flow to a bag placed surgically on the outside of the abdomen. This temporary situation allows the colon to heal and the colostomy may be closed within 1 to 4 months.

Of course, each patient’s condition is different and you should consult your proctologist or colon and rectal surgeon.

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