Surgical management of Meckel's diverticulum. An epidemiologic, population-based study

Ann Surg. 1994 Oct;220(4):564-8; discussion 568-9. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199410000-00014.


Objective: The authors determined whether Meckel's diverticulum, discovered incidentally at operation, should be removed.

Summary background data: It is not clear from the medical literature whether the risk of an incidental Meckel's diverticulectomy is greater than the risk of leaving the diverticulum in place.

Methods: The authors used the medical experience of Olmsted County, Minnesota residents for the period 1950 to 1992 to answer the question.

Results: During the period, 58 residents developed Meckel's complications that required diverticulectomies. The incidence of complications was 87 per 100,000 person-years, and the lifetime risk (to 80 years of age) of developing them was 6.4%. The risks were similar throughout the period and at all ages of life, but were greater among men (124 per 100,000 person-years) than women (50 per 100,000 person-years, p < 0.05). Diverticulectomies for complications carried an operative mortality and morbidity of 2% and 12% and a cumulative risk of long-term postoperative complications of 7%, whereas incidental diverticulectomies done in 87 residents during the period carried corresponding rates of only 1%, 2%, and 2%, respectively.

Conclusions: Meckel's diverticula discovered incidentally at operation should be removed for most patients, regardless of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Diverticulitis / epidemiology*
  • Diverticulitis / etiology
  • Diverticulitis / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Tables
  • Male
  • Meckel Diverticulum / complications
  • Meckel Diverticulum / epidemiology
  • Meckel Diverticulum / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Morbidity
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors