Diverticular disease is a common condition, particularly in the Western world, where small pockets develop on the outside of the colon. These are generally thought to be related to high pressures generated within the lumen of the bowel, because of the low fiber diet eaten in the Western world.
Diverticulitis is a condition which occurs when these pockets become inflamed. It accounts for more than 200,000 hospitalizations annually within the United States and healthcare costs of approximately 300 million dollars.
Medical management, generally using antibiotics, is successful in most cases of acute diverticulitis however some people require emergency surgery or drainage of an abscess. In fact intervention like this is required in up to 25% of people. When emergency surgery occurs it frequently involves placement of a temporary colostomy.
In an effort to avoid the risks of emergency surgery, patients with severe complications of diverticulitis or with recurrent diverticulitis are often recommended to have elective surgery. This involves removing a segment of the colon, generally the sigmoid colon which is the area most commonly affected by diverticular disease, in an effort to minimize the risk of future problems with diverticular disease.