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Intestinal diverticulum


A diverticulum is a small pouch that appears along a natural passageway in the body. They usually appear in the digestive tract because of a weakness in the wall, called mucosa. In the intestine there is a particular type called Meckel diverticulum. It is not formed during adult life like other diverticula, but is actually a remnant of the embryological channel that is generally absent in most people. For others, however, it persists and lies in the small intestine.


Meckel's diverticulum doesn't usually have any symptoms. However, in some cases, there may be complications. Excessive secretion of acid at this level can cause a gastric ulcer, i.e. an erosion of the stomach lining that causes pain in the upper part of the abdomen via crises occurring a few hours after meals as well as gastrointestinal bleeding. This diverticulum can also generate intestinal obstruction accompanied by vomiting. It can also infect and cause diverticulitis. In the most severe cases, there is a risk of bowel perforation.


Meckel's diverticulum can be detected by an X-ray coupled with a barium enema. The doctor fills the colon with an opaque liquid before the X-ray in order to see the condition of the walls. Endoscopy is another method, allowing for a more precise examination.


Meckel's diverticulum can be treated by the surgical removal of the obstruction. If it isn't causing any symptoms, its removal is discussed. If there are clinical signs, surgery is recommended almost systematically.


Meckel's diverticulum is an embryonic remnant; there is no prevention.