Clinical picture of diverticular disease of the colon

Clin Gastroenterol. 1986 Oct;15(4):903-16.


Uncomplicated diverticular disease is usually asymptomatic. When abdominal pain or discomfort related to defecation, altered bowel habit, and flatulence occur, they are likely a result of a coexistent irritable bowel. Nonetheless, diverticula are subject to serious complications. Diverticular hemorrhage may be massive and require emergency angiography and segmental resection. Peridiverticulitis occurs when a diverticulum ruptures, perhaps because of inspissated fecal material. This occurs usually in the sigmoid, resulting in a peridiverticular abscess localized by the adjacent fat and mesentery. If the infection extends beyond this, abscess, fistula, or free perforation may occur. These complications require antibiotics, intravenous therapy, and, in the case of uncontrollable abscess or perforation, urgent surgery. Obstruction of the colon, sometimes associated with ileus, may occur and in this case one may find a carcinoma among extensive diverticular disease. Although there is insufficient evidence to justify a high-fiber diet for the general population, the notion of a low-residue diet in the management of uncomplicated diverticular disease should be laid to rest.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / complications
  • Diverticulitis, Colonic / etiology
  • Diverticulitis, Colonic / therapy
  • Diverticulum, Colon* / complications
  • Diverticulum, Colon* / physiopathology
  • Diverticulum, Colon* / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Humans