During his Colonoscopy, the doctor remarks, “Tics, hmm, starting at 25 centimeters, and goes throughout the Sigmoid.  Definitely Diverticulosis.”

During his Colonoscopy, the doctor remarks, “Tics, hmm, starting at 25 centimeters, and goes throughout the Sigmoid.  Definitely Diverticulosis.”

Small holes or pouches in the lining of the colon (large intestine) that bulge outward through weak spots are called Diverticulum.  Multiple pouches are called Diverticula.  The condition of having Diverticula is called Diverticulosis.  If the holes or pouches are red, irritated and possibly bleeding, it would be called Diverticulitis.

About ten percent of Americans over 40, have Diverticulosis.  About half the people older than 60, have Diverticulosis.

Diverticula are mostly seen in the lower portion of the large intestine called the Sigmoid Colon, but can go throughout the large intestine.  Ten to 25 percent of people with Diverticulosis will get Diverticulitis at sometime.

Most people with Diverticulosis do not have pain or discomfort with it, but may have other symptoms such as, cramping in the lower abdomen, bloating or constipation.  However, when the Diverticula become inflamed or infected, the same person will have abdominal pain, most frequently on the left side of the abdomen.  Sometimes, an abscess may form and antibiotics may be ordered.  Frequently, Diverticulitis only lasts a few days, especially when treated right away.

However, it is possible that the Diverticulitis can cause the already thinning and weakening pouches to develop a perforation (holes or tear through the intestine).  The pus or infected drainage, and stool could leak into the abdominal cavity and cause inflammation and infection, which is called Peritonitis.  This would cause severe abdominal pain, and probably nausea and vomiting.  This would cause a need for an immediate emergency surgery to go in, clean out the abdominal cavity, irrigate and clean all of the organs, clamp off and remove that part of the intestine that has perforated.

Many people live with Diverticulosis for years.  But multiple bouts of Diverticulitis sometimes cause the need to have that part of the intestine removed to get rid of the problem area.  The doctor will clamp off both ends of the affected area, and cut out that section.  Then take the clamps off and sew the two ends back together.  The sewing of the two ends is called an “End to End Anastamosis.”

There are a few ways to verify the diagnosis of Diverticulosis after a Primary Care Practitioner identifies that it may be a problem.  An ultrasound can be used to bounce the sound wave off the Diverticula.  A CT Scan with dye injected into one’s veins may show the perforation or the abscesses.  A Barium Enema in which an enema of white chalky followed by X-rays may show the Diverticula.

The best way to check is direct examination through a Colonoscopy, an examination of the inside of the intestine by a long tube with a camera lens mounted on the end.  Your local General Surgeon and Hospital does these procedures.

The worst part of any of the testing for Diverticulosis is the “cleaning out”, taking of multiple cathartics (medication or liquids that make you poop).  It’s no fun, but to get a good exam, the intestine needs to be cleaned.  For a Colonoscopy, you will probably sleep through most of that procedure.

People with intestinal problems like Diverticulosis, need to increase their fiber intake.  This includes eating more bread, cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables.  Back off of the red meats a little.  Back off of those seeds or nuts; you don’t want one to get caught in one of the little Diverticulum; could be painful, not fun.

If you are having symptoms of abdominal discomfort, constipation, or unusual bloating, check with your Primary Care Provider and ask about Colonoscopy.  Most insurance will cover a Screening Colonoscopy.  Make sure you don’t have Diverticulosis.  It is recommended to have a routine Colonoscopy every five years after age 50, unless you have a family history of Colon Cancer, when it is recommended more often.