What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is an infection or inflammation of pouches that can form in the wall of the colon. Diverticulitis can lead to serious complications, including massive infection or perforation of the bowel, or intestinal obstruction.

Signs and Symptoms

Most people with diverticulitis don’t have symptoms or problems. When symptoms or issues do present themselves, doctors diagnose diverticular disease. Symptoms of the disease can range from minor to severe and can appear suddenly or develop gradually over several days. The most common symptom is constant or severe abdominal pain, typically occurring on the lower left side of the abdomen, although pain may be felt in the right side as well.

Additional symptoms can include nausea and vomiting; fever and chills; blood in your stool; and bleeding from your rectum.


Diverticular diseases such as diverticulitis develop when bacteria or stool get caught in small sacs or pouches that form in weak spots along the intestinal wall, typically in the lower part of the colon. Experts aren’t sure what causes these pouches to develop, although they become more common as people age.

Diagnosis and treatment

If diverticular disease is suspected, your doctor may perform a digital rectal exam, blood test, stool test, CT scan, lower GI series (barium enema), and/or colonoscopy to confirm a diagnosis and rule out other issues.

Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. Your doctor will probably recommend rest and a liquid diet for a period of time. If an infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed. In more serious cases, a needle drainage or surgery may be required to drain an abscess, repair a fistula, or remove an infected segment of the colon.

Ongoing treatment involves preventing the intestinal pouches from becoming irritated or infected. Oftentimes dietary changes can achieve this. If the condition cannot be managed this way, a surgeon may perform a colon resection (removal of the affected part of the colon). To speak with a surgeon regarding diverticulitis, please contact MSA or call 231-739-9461.