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Diverticulitis Facts

Diverticulosis of the colon is a common condition that afflicts about 50% of Americans by age 60 and nearly 80% by age 80.  However only a small percentage of those with diverticulosis have symptoms, and even fewer will ever require surgery.

What is diverticulosis/diverticulitis?

Diverticula are pockets that develop in the colon wall, usually in the sigmoid colon, but may involve the entire colon. Diverticulosis describes the presence of these pockets. Diverticulitis describes inflammation or complications of these pockets.

What are the symptoms?

Diverticulitis is an infection – most often in the sigmoid – and often presents with pain, chills, fever and change in bowel habits.  The pain is characteristically left lower abdomen but may be in the lower abdomen and sometimes on the right side.  More intense symptoms such as severe pain and high fever and difficulty passing bowel movements can be associated with serious complications such as a perforation with an abscess.

Patients with diverticulitis may present in various ways.  Some patients have rare and minor flare ups that respond quickly to antibiotics.  Others have more severe or more frequent attacks and antibiotics tend to be required for longer periods of time.  

We specialize in the use of modern surgical methods to treat diverticulitis with quick recovery.

What to ask your surgeon about surgery

Yes. In fact we are double board certified by both the American Board of Surgeons as well as the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

Yes – We routinely perform several laparoscopic colon procedures each week.

Our surgeons have performed over 500 laparoscopic colectomies since 2004 which makes us one of the highest volume practices in the country.

Among the benefits, our patients recover sooner, require less pain medication, tolerate a diet and are discharged from the hospital earlier than patients undergoing open surgery.

Nearly all patients are candidates for this procedure – even if you have had previous open abdominal procedures or have many medical diseases.

As with any colon or general surgery there are several potential risks which we will discuss with you on an individual basis. However, we have seen significantly fewer risks with our patients following laparoscopic surgery – including a much reduced risk of wound infections.

This refers to the situation where you begin the surgery laparoscopically and must convert to the open technique for various reasons. Our rate of conversion is less than 5%.

Most of our patients are ready to leave the hospital in 3 or 4 days following surgery. This compares favorably to open surgery which usually requires 7 to 9 days.

Yes. Houston Colon surgeons maintain a prospective patient database which allows us to review and present our patient outcomes. We recently invited to present our data at TexMed 2006 – the annual meeting of the Texas Medical Association. Our outcomes have been very favorable with very low complication rates and compare well with published data from the Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.