Background: The objective of this study was to audit the presentation and outcome for patients admitted with an acute complication of diverticular disease.
Methods: This study was a retrospective review of 418 admissions with an acute complication of diverticular disease over a 5-year interval.
Results: Of the 418 admissions, 15 patients were eventually found to have an alternative diagnosis. Some 403 patients were studied further. The overall mortality rate in this group was 5.7 per cent. A total of 113 patients (28.0 per cent) required an operation and in this group the mortality rate was 17.7 per cent. All deaths occurred in patients who had surgery for septic complications or bowel obstruction. Of the patients who had surgery, 90.2 per cent had a resection of the involved colon. One-third of these had a primary anastomosis; the remainder underwent Hartmann's procedure. Some 83 patients had a stoma fashioned and of these 72 went on to have the stoma closed. The median age of those who died after operation was 80 years. An American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score of 3 or more, concurrent medical disease and shock on admission were all associated with a high mortality rate (P < 0.001). Some 30 per cent of patients were readmitted during this study with a further complication of diverticular disease.
Conclusion: The mortality rate after surgery for acute diverticular disease remains excessive and a high-risk group can be identified before operation. A policy of resection and anastomosis appears justified for selected patients. Adopting a practice of interval elective sigmoid colectomy after admission with acute diverticulitis might prevent readmission with further complications.