Diverticulitis is swelling (inflammation) of an abnormal pouch (diverticulum) in the intestinal wall. These pouches are usually found in the large intestine (colon). The presence of the pouches themselves is called diverticulosis.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Small, protruding sacs of the inner lining of the intestine (diverticulosis) can develop in any part of the intestine. They are most common in the colon, especially the sigmoid colon, the lowest part of the colon.
These sacs, called diverticula, occur more often after the age of 40. When they become inflamed, the condition is known as diverticulitis. Diverticula are thought to develop as a result of high pressure or abnormal pressure in the colon. High pressure against the colon wall causes pouches of the intestinal lining to bulge outward through small defects in the colon wall that surround blood vessels.
Diverticulosis is very common. It is found in more than half of Americans over age 60. Only a small percentage of these people will develop the complication of diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis is caused by inflammation, or (sometimes) a small tear in a diverticulum. If the tear is large, stool in the colon can spill into the abdominal cavity, causing an infection (abscess) or inflammation in the abdomen.
Risk factors for diverticulosis may include older age or a low-fiber diet.
Pictures & Images
There are 4 basic tests for colon cancer: a stool test (to check for blood); sigmoidoscopy (inspection of the lower colon; colonoscopy (inspection of the entire colon); and double contrast barium enema. All 4 are effective in catching cancers in the early stages, when treatment is most beneficial.
The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.
Colon diverticula – series
The colon, or large intestine, is a muscular tube that begins at the end of the small intestine and runs to the rectum. The colon absorbs water from liquid stool that is delivered to it from the small intestine.
Diverticulitis : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Diverticulitis : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests
Diverticulitis : Treatment
Review Date : 1/28/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.