Digestive + Colon
As you age, pockets, called diverticula can begin to form in the lining of your colon. Approximately 33% of Americans over the age of 45 have them, and that percentage rises to up to 66% for those over the age of 85.70
However these pockets may get infected with bacteria causing small abscesses (a collection of pus) to form. In some cases this can progress and spread throughout the abdomen. This is called peritonitis and is an emergency. Symptoms may include fever, pain, nausea, chills, and cramping. It’s important to see your doctor if you have these symptoms because it can be very dangerous if not treated quickly.
Diverticulitis can be treated with a variety of measures, such as antibiotics, diet, and stool softeners. Surgery to remove the diseased area of the colon is only required if:
- Complications recur frequently.
- The attacks are severe.
- The symptoms don’t respond to other treatments.
Other factors influencing the decision to have surgery include your age and general health. Of all patients hospitalized for diverticulitis, between 20%-30% require surgery.
Options for surgery
If your doctor is recommending colon surgery, try to learn as much as you can about the procedure. With years of research and advances in technology, there are now different options for how the procedures are performed. Along with the traditional “open” procedure (which requires a large incision), there is a minimally invasive approach (with small incisions) that is equally effective. Minimally invasive surgery for diverticulitis typically results in a shorter hospital stay26, 28 and faster recovery with less use of pain relieving prescription medicine28 and smaller scars.