Fast Five Quiz: Diverticulitis and Diverticulosis

B.S. Anand, MD


July 01, 2020

Diverticula and, hence, diverticulitis can develop anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, so symptoms may mimic multiple conditions. Note these examples:

  • Diverticulitis in the right colon or in a redundant sigmoid colon may be mistaken for acute appendicitis. Cecal diverticulitis can also mimic acute appendicitis, but cecal diverticula are generally rare. Diverticulitis in the transverse colon may mimic peptic ulcer disease, pancreatitis, or cholecystitis. Retroperitoneal involvement may appear similarly to renal disease. In women, lower quadrant pain may be difficult to distinguish from a gynecologic process.

  • More severe diverticulitis is often accompanied by anorexia, nausea, and vomiting. Typically, the pain is localized, severe, and present for several days prior to presentation. Altered bowel habits, especially constipation, are reported by most patients. A small percentage of patients may complain of urinary symptoms, such as dysuria, urgency, and frequency, due to the inflammation adjacent to urinary tract structures.

  • Macroperforation with spillage of colonic contents into the peritoneum can lead to generalized abdominal pain and peritonitis, or it may lead to a localized pelvic, left lower quadrant, or right lower quadrant abscess with more localized abdominal pain and peritonitis.

  • Leg pain possibly associated with a thigh abscess and leg emphysema (presence of air) secondary to retroperitoneal perforation from diverticulitis have been reported.

Read more about the signs and symptoms associated with diverticular disease.


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