Contemporary Review of Risk-Stratified Management in Acute Uncomplicated and Complicated Diverticulitis

World J Surg. 2016 Oct;40(10):2537-45. doi: 10.1007/s00268-016-3560-8.


Background: Acute colonic diverticulitis is a common clinical condition. Severity of the disease is based on clinical, laboratory, and radiological investigations and dictates the need for medical or surgical intervention. Recent clinical trials have improved the understanding of the natural history of the disease resulting in new approaches to and better evidence for the management of acute diverticulitis.

Methods: We searched the Cochrane Library (years 2004-2015), MEDLINE (years 2004-2015), and EMBASE (years 2004-2015) databases. We used the search terms "diverticulitis, colonic" or "acute diverticulitis" or "divertic*" in combination with the terms "management," "antibiotics," "non-operative," or "surgery." Registers for clinical trials (such as the WHO registry and the ) were searched for ongoing, recruiting, or closed trials not yet published.

Results: Antibiotic treatment can be avoided in simple, non-complicated diverticulitis and outpatient management is safe. The management of complicated disease, ranging from a localized abscess to perforation with diffuse peritonitis, has changed towards either percutaneous or minimally invasive approaches in selected cases. The role of laparoscopic lavage without resection in perforated non-fecal diverticulitis is still debated; however, recent evidence from two randomised controlled trials has found a higher re-intervention in this group of patients.

Conclusions: A shift in management has occurred towards conservative management in acute uncomplicated disease. Those with uncomplicated acute diverticulitis may be treated without antibiotics. For complicated diverticulitis with purulent peritonitis, the use of peritoneal lavage appears to be non-superior to resection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / etiology
  • Abscess / surgery*
  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Conservative Treatment / trends
  • Diverticulitis / complications
  • Diverticulitis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Perforation / etiology
  • Intestinal Perforation / surgery*
  • Laparoscopy / methods
  • Peritoneal Lavage
  • Peritonitis / etiology
  • Peritonitis / therapy*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents