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Diverticulum of the colon


A diverticulum of the colon is a sort of a pocket whose size can vary from a few millimeters to over a centimeter. It is often due to a hernia of the colonic mucosa that appears on the muscle layer in areas of weakness in the wall. It is formed above the sigmoid colon, the last portion of the colon. There are several different diverticular diseases (sigmoid only affects the sigmoid colon). Diverticula occur mainly among individuals over the age 50 and their presence increases with age. These diverticula can exist without causing complications for many years. However when there is inflammation of a diverticulum, it is called diverticulitis, which occurs in response to the stagnation of feces resulting in bacterial overgrowth.


Diverticular disease is often latent with no symptoms. Diverticulitis is characterized by:
  • Fever;
  • abdominal pain on the left side;
  • occlusion or bleeding, signs of complications.


To highlight the diverticula, a CT scan can be done. After the injection of an opaque solution, the scan will show signs of the thickening of the lining of the colon, which is diverticulosis, or if the inflammation is affecting the wall, which is diverticulitis. The exam of choice is the colonoscopy, which must however, be carried out within one month of the outbreak of diverticulitis, as there is a risk of perforation in acute cases. A barium enema is also a good diagnostic tool. This is an X-ray to visualize the intestine through an opaque liquid.


Treatments vary depending on the degree of inflammation and the type of infection of diverticula. The mildest cases will be treated with a special diet and the prescription of antibiotics and analgesics. In more advanced cases, a doctor will need to proceed with the removal of a segment of the colon, the only way to prevent the emergence of a new thrust.


Meckel's diverticulum is an embryonic remnant, there is no way to prevent it.

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