ZocdocAnswersWhat is diverticulitis?

Question

What is diverticulitis?

What exactly does it mean for a person to have diverticulitis? I recently had a CT scan done on some digestive troubles I was having, and the doctors said that diverticulitis might be my problem. We haven't talked about treatments yet, but he made it sound as if it isn't too serious.

Answer

It is likely that the CT scan showed areas of out pouching in the large intestine. These out-pouchings are called diverticula, and they are usually caused as the large intestine ages but they can occasionally be genetic. In and of themselves, diverticula are not a problem. However, sometimes food or feces get stuck in one of the diverticula and causes inflammation. This can lead to fever and abdominal pain. In serious cases, the pouch can rupture releasing fecal material into the abdominal cavity. This entire spectrum of possibilities is called "diverticulitis." The treatment of diverticulitis sometimes involves prevention through avoiding constipation and certain foods such as seeds and nuts. In the case of a diverticulitis flare, your doctor will determine whether you need treatment, such as with antibiotics, or even in some cases hospitalization. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Continuing good followup with the doctor who ordered the CT scan is highly recommended.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.