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Diagnostics The diagnostic workup for diverticular disease has been virtually un- changed throughout recent years


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Definition, Epidemiology and Clinical Course

A commonly accepted uniform definition of diverticular disease is not available. The mere presence of diverticula which are herniations of the mu- cosal layer through the colonic wall is referred to as diverticulosis. It is deba- table whether diverticulosis on its own without further complications causes symptoms and whether this condition should be named diverticular disease.

However, problems secondary to diverticulosis such as diverticulitis, perfora- tion, fistula, obstruction and bleeding definitely justify the use of the term diverticular disease, which, then, may also be classified as complicated diver- ticular disease.


The diagnostic workup for diverticular disease has been virtually un- changed throughout recent years. With the high-resolution CT scanners that are available nowadays, most clinicians and radiologists prefer the CT scan to diagnose diverticula compared with the more time-consuming barium ene- ma, although the latter is still a useful examination. Furthermore, imaging of diverticular is also elegantly possible with modern MRI scans [1]. It is of note that colonoscopy, which frequently detects diverticula as an irrelevant finding during screening for colorectal cancer, was found to be a useful pro- cedure even for acute diverticulitis in order to diagnose associated pathology [2]. In this study, the rate of perforation was low so that this risk does not really justify renouncing colonoscopy during an acute attack.

Operative Versus Conservative Treatment

There is still consensus that the patients should not undergo sigmoid co- lectomy after the first attack of uncomplicated diverticulitis. Elective sigmoid colectomy is recommended for patients who have a second attack. This algo- rithm is now further supported by a recent study reporting data from a large

Diverticular Disease ± Update 2006

M.E. Kreis, K.W. Jauch



database [3]. In this study, 13.3% of the patients who had an initial episode of acute diverticulitis had a recurrence, while this rate went up to 29.3% in those patients that had not been operated on following two episodes. It is de- batable whether younger patients should be operated on earlier, i.e., upon initial presentation with acute diverticulitis. Approximately half of the studies that address this issue argue in favor of this approach [4±7], while the other half argue against it [8±11]. This issue, therefore, remains unsettled.

The historic paper by Farmakis et al. [12] that reported lethal complica- tions in almost 10% of patients during recurrent divertiular was recently challenged by a retrospective study published by Mçller et al. [13] with 363 patients and a 12-year follow-up. In their study, only two patients died secondary to diverticular disease during follow-up, which supports the con- cept that patients should be operated on to achieve relief of symptoms rather than to prevent lethal complications.

Choice of Surgical Approach and Procedure

For recurrent diverticulitis, elective sigmoid colectomy with resection be- low the recto-sigmoid junction and anastomosis to the upper rectum remains the gold standard. The standard for perforated diverticulitis in staged Hinch- ey III and IV stages was extensively discussed in recent years. Salem [14]

performed a meta-analysis including 98studies that reported on the surgical approach for patients with these stages. While sigmoid colectomy with pri- mary anastomosis (with or without ileostomy) has a lower morbidity (23.5 vs 39.4%) and a lower mortality (9.9 vs 19.6%) compared with the Hartmann operation (including operations for reanastomosis), a prospective random- ized trial is still lacking. Thus, although no selection bias was identified in this review, the evidence for the recommendation to perform a sigmoid co- lectomy with primary anastomosis even in Hinchey III and IV stages remains limited.

Technical Aspects of Surgery

Laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy was shown to be a feasible and an ac- ceptable alternative to open sigmoid colectomy for recurrent diverticulitis in the past. Conversion rates, morbidity and mortality following laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy were shown to be volume-dependent [15]. The laparo- scopic technique has the potential result in reduced complications, reduced hospital stay and better cosmetic results compared with the open operation;

however, it also carries the potential for increased operative time and in- creased treatment costs [16]. As the available comparative, nonrandomized

M.E. Kreis, K.W. Jauch



studies have a selection bias, definitive conclusions are not possible at this time; thus, we need to wait for the results of ongoing randomized-controlled trials before the superior technique can be determined.

Peri- and Postoperative Care

Several publications addressing the potential of fast-track surgery follow- ing surgery for colorectal cancer were published in recent years [17, 18]. No reports are available addressing specifically the peri- and postoperative care following sigmoid colectomy for recurrent diverticulitis. As care after surgery for cancer of the sigmoid colon is similar, multimodal rehabilitation, i.e. fast- track surgery after sigmoid colectomy for recurrent diverticulitis, is likely to have a comparable advantageous effect on patient recovery. Interestingly, Basse et al. [19] demonstrated in a recent study that the laparoscopic approach does not provide additional advantages regarding patient recovery compared with open surgery, when fast-track principles are strictly followed.


1. Schreyer AG, Furst A, Agha A, Kikinis R, Scheibl K, Schælmerich J, Feuerbach S, Her- farth H, Seitz J (2004) Magnetic resonance imaging based colonography for diagnosis and assessment of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Int J Colorect Dis 19:474±480 2. Sakhnini E, Lahat A, Melzer E, Apter S, Simon C, Natour M, Bardan E, Bar-Meir S

(2004) Early colonoscopy in patients with acute diverticulitis: results of a prospective pilot study. Endoscopy 36:504±507

3. Broderick-Villa G, Burchette RJ, Collins JC, Abbas MA, Haigh PI (2005) Hospitalization for acute diverticulitis does not mandate routine elective colectomy. Arch Surg 140:576±

4. Cunningham MA, Davis JW, Kaups KL (1997) Medical versus surgical management of583 diverticulitis in patients under age 40. Am J Surg 174:733±735

5. Ambrosetti P, Morel P (1998) Actue left-sided colonic diverticulitis: diagnosis and surgi- cal indications after successful conservative therapy of first time acute diverticulitis.

Zentralbl Chir 123:1382±1385

6. Makela J, Vuolio S, Kiviniemi H, Laitinen S (1998) Natural history of diverticular dis- ease: when to operate? Dis Colon Rectum 41:1523±1528

7. Chautems RC, Ambrosetti P, Ludwig A, Mermillod B, Morel P, Soravia C (2002) Long- term follow-up after first acute episode of sigmoid diverticulitis: is surgery mandatory?

A prospective study of 118patients. Dis Colon Rectum 45:962±966

8. Vignati PV, Welch JP, Cohen JL (1995) Long-term management of diverticulitis in young patients. Dis Colon Rectum 38:627±629

9. Spivak H, Weinrauch S, Harvey JC, Surick B, Ferstenberg H, Friedman I (1997) Acute colonic diverticulitis in the young. Dis Colon Rectum 40:570±574

10. Reisman Y, Ziv Y, Kravrovitc D, Negri M, Wolloch Y, Halevy A (1999) Diverticulitis: the effect of age and location on the course of disease. Int J Colorectal Dis 14:250±254 11. Guzzo J, Hyman N (2004) Diverticulitis in young patients: is resection after a single

attack always warranted? Dis Colon Rectum 47:1187±1190

12. Farmakis N, Tudor RG, Keighley MR (1994) The 5-year natural history of complicated diverticular disease. Br J Surg 81:733±735

7 Diverticular Disease ± Update 2006 159


13. Mçller MH, Glatzle J, Kasparek MS, Becker HD, Jehle EC, Zittel TT, Kreis ME (2005) Long-term outcome of conservative treatment in patients with diverticulitis of the sig- moid colon. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 17:649±654

14. Salem LFD (2004) Primary anastomosis or Hartmann's procedure for patients with di- verticular peritonitis? A systematic review. Dis Colon Rectum 47:1953±1964

15. Scheidbach HSC, Rose J, Konradt J, Gross E, Bårlehner E, Pross M, Schmidt U, Kæcker- ling F, Lippert H (2004) Laparoscopic approach to treatment of sigmoid diverticulitis:

changes in the spectrum of indications and results of a prospective, multicenter study on 1545 patients. Dis Colon Rectum 47:1883±1888

16. Purkayastha S, Constantinides VA, Tekkis PP, Athanasiou T, Aziz O, Tilney H, Darzi AW, Heriot AG (2006) Laparoscopic vs open surgery for diverticular disease: a meta-analysis of nonrandomized studies. Dis Colon Rectum 49:446±663

17. Kehlet H, Wilmore DW (2005) Fast-track surgery. Br J Surg 92:3±4

18. Schwenk W, Neudecker J, Raue W, Haase O, Mçller JM (2005) ªFast-trackº rehabilitation after rectal cancer resection. Int J Colorectal Dis 9:1±7

19. Basse L, Jakobsen DH, Bardram L, Billesbolle P, Lund C, Mogensen T, Rosenberg J, Keh- let H (2005) Functional recovery after open versus laparoscopic colonic resection: a ran- domized, blinded study. Ann Surg 241:416±423

160 M.E. Kreis, K.W. Jauch: 7 Diverticular Disease ± Update 2006


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