Colon & Rectal Surgery
Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system. They are found most often in the lower part of the large intestine (colon). Diverticula are common, especially after age 40, and seldom cause problems.
The presence of diverticula is known as diverticulosis (die-vur-tik-yoo-LOE-sis). When one or more of the pouches become inflamed, and in some cases infected, that condition is known as diverticulitis.
Treatment of diverticulitis depends on the severity of your signs and symptoms. If your symptoms are mild, you may be treated at home with antibiotics to treat the infection and a liquid diet to help your bowel heal.
Your health care team may recommend surgery to treat your diverticulitis if:
- You have a complication, such as a bowel abscess, fistula or obstruction or a puncture in your bowel wall.
- You have had multiple episodes of diverticulitis.
- You have a weakened immune system.
There are two main types of surgery:
- Primary bowel resection
The surgeon removes diseased segments of your intestine and reconnects the healthy segments, known as anastomosis. This allows you to have normal bowel movements. Depending on the amount of inflammation, you may have open surgery or a minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, procedure.
- Bowel resection with colostomy
If you have so much inflammation that it's not possible to rejoin your colon and rectum, the surgeon will perform a colostomy. An opening, or stoma, in your abdominal wall is connected to the healthy part of your colon. Waste passes through the opening into a bag. Once the inflammation has eased, the colostomy may be reversed and the bowel reconnected.
Your health care provider may recommend colonoscopy six weeks after you recover from diverticulitis, especially if you haven't had the test in the previous year. There doesn't appear to be a direct link between diverticular disease and colon or rectal cancer. But colonoscopy — which is risky during a diverticulitis attack — can exclude colon cancer as a cause of your symptoms.