Treatment of perforated diverticular disease of the colon

Adv Surg. 1978;12:85-109.


Diverticular disease of the colon now is recognized to be functional disease resulting from altered neuromuscular activity in the colon. Inflammatory complications, when they occur, usually result from inflammation around a single diverticulum. This may lead to the formation of a pericolic or pelvic abscess. Free perforation of these leads to purulent peritonitis. The original communication with the lumen of the bowel usually is obliterated. More rarely, with either rapid evolution or failure of the diverticular neck to obliterate, a free communication develops between the bowel lumen and the peritoneal cavity, leading to fecal peritonitis. Fecal peritonitis results in an extremely high mortality rate. The operative approach for a patient with perforated diverticular disease should be individualized and depends on the stage of the disease present, the general condition of the patient, the experience of the surgeon in colon surgery and the availability of facilities and personnel to provide intensive care. In larger institutions when these conditions are optimal, primary resection of the diseased bowel with or without anastomosis is becoming the procedure of choice. In smaller institutions or if conditions are not optimal, right transverse colostomy with drainage of the perforated segment can be relied on to control the disease with a mortality rate compared to that of primary resection. If free perforation and fecal peritonitis are present, exteriorization or primary resection of the perforated segment must be carried out. We would not recommend primary anastomosis under these circumstances.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colectomy / methods
  • Colostomy
  • Diverticulitis, Colonic / complications
  • Diverticulitis, Colonic / microbiology
  • Diverticulitis, Colonic / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Perforation / etiology
  • Intestinal Perforation / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritonitis / etiology
  • Peritonitis / surgery