Diverticular Disease

Diverticular disease, also known as diverticulosis, is a condition of the large bowel characterised by small pockets or pouches in the wall of the large bowel. It usually affects the bowel on the left side called the sigmoid colon. It is very common in people from developed countries and is thought to be related to a diet low in fibre.  Its incidence increases with age with half of people over 60 years old affected.

In many cases it causes no or minimal symptoms although it can be associated with abdominal (tummy) pain and a variable bowel habit. Diverticulitis refers to inflammation in the bowel and is characterised by persistent abdominal pain that requires treatment with antibiotics. Occasionally this can be associated with an abscess or perforation and peritonitis, when emergency bowel surgery may be required. Other complications from diverticular disease include bleeding from the bowel, fistula and partial blockage in the bowel.