Diverticulosis is a condition where small pockets or outpouchings of the colon wall occur. They arise with age and are associated with a low fiber diet. Diverticulosis is often a silent condition. However, some people with diverticulosis will develop an abscess or infection in one or more of the pouches. This is called diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis typically presents with lower abdominal pain which can be severe. There may also be fever, chills and constipation. Patients may need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics. Mild cases can be treated with oral antibiotics outside of the hospital. In the worst cases or with recurrent disease, surgery to remove the affected section of the colon may be necessary.
Diverticulosis may also result in internal bleeding. Diverticular bleeding occurs most often in the elderly. The bleeding is usually painless but can be severe. In most cases, the bleeding stops spontaneously. In some cases, the bleeding can be treated through a colonoscope or with embolization of the bleeding vessel using a catheter inserted through the leg. When the bleeding cannot be stopped by other methods, surgery can be necessary.