Purpose: The natural history of patients admitted because of acute diverticulitis is largely unknown, and the selection of patients for surgical treatment varies notably. This study presents our experience concerning the outcome for 366 patients admitted during a 10-year period.
Methods: Three hundred sixty-six patients admitted to our hospital with acute diverticulitis from 1981 to 1990 were identified from a computer database, and their clinical data up to the end of 1996 were reviewed from the database and patient records.
Results: There were significantly more males than females in the age group less than 50 years old, and young males underwent surgical treatment during the first treatment period more frequently than the others. Young patients were operated on without mortality, and all their temporary colostomies were closed. Older patients died more often of diseases unrelated to the diverticular disease during the years after the first episode of acute diverticulitis. Recurrences of diverticular disease developed in 22 percent of patients, and they were significantly more common in patients less than 50 years old than in the older age groups. Males less than 50 years old more often developed complications of diverticular disease after two hospital admissions.
Conclusions: Males first admitted when less than 50 years of age undergo more primary operations and develop more recurrences of diverticular disease than do older people. Based on our data, however, we recommend surgery for all patients after two episodes of acute diverticulitis that resolves after conservative treatment with antibiotics.