digestive disease caused by an inflammation of a herniating pouch (diverticulum) within the wall of the intestine, most often colon

Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive system. It is caused by inflammation of pouches (diverticula) in the walls of the bowel. It usually occurs in the large intestine. Diverticula can also be in the upper digestive tract at the level of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.[1]

Classification and external resources
Large bowel (sigmoid colon) showing multiple diverticula. The diverticula appear on either side of the longitudinal muscle bundle (taenium).



Symptoms of diverticulitis depend on the extent of inflammation in the intestine. Diverticulitis can be very painful. The pain is usually present in the lower abdomen on the left side. People with diverticulitis can also have nausea, vomiting, difficulty or pain while passing urine and changes in bowel habits.[2]



One of the complications of diverticulitis can be the formation of an abscess in the abdominal cavity. The inflammation or infection can then reach the abdominal wall and causes peritonitis. This infection can also spread to other parts of the body such as organs near the intestine, causing sepsis, which is dangerous. In addition, a fistula may form between the intestine and other organs. Diverticulitis may also cause a blockage in the colon.[3]



To prevent diverticulitis, it is important to be active and to have a diet rich in fibers. These include eating (fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals). It is also possible to reduce the risks of diverticulitis in several ways: chew foods before swallowing, defecate as soon as you feel the need, eat less fats and meats, do more physical activities, eat probiotics and drink water regularly.[4]



To diagnose diverticulitis, it is important to do a barium enema X-ray to see the shape of the intestine wall.[5] Diverticula can be seen with a axial tomographie scan (CT scan). It is also possible to prescribe an abdominal radiograph to indicate if there is a perforation. After the acute phase or absence of acute diverticulitis, the doctor can prescribe a colonoscopy to look at the colon and determine the evolution of the disease.[3]



The resection of the colon is the procedure most often used to treat severe diverticulitis. It is also possible to do a resection of the diseased part of the colon and make a colostomy. In fact, if a diverticulitis is too large, a colostomy could be necessary either temporarily or permanently.[6]


  1. "Diverticulite". 3 January 2013.
  2. "Diverticulite : Symptômes et complications".[permanent dead link]
  3. 3.0 3.1 C.Smeltzer, Suzanne et G.Bare, Brenda Médecine et chirurgie : Fonction digestive,métabolique et endocrinienne. édition ERPI, Saint-Laurent, 2006, p.1389.
  4. "Prévention de la diverticulite". 3 January 2013.
  5. "Maladies : Diverticulite".[permanent dead link]
  6. "Traitement médicaux de la diverticulite". 3 January 2013.