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Diverticulitis

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Diverticulitis experts at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders specialize in the detection and treatment of simple to complex diseases of the colon. From nutritional support to surgical expertise, we offer a well-rounded treatment plan.

 

Diverticulitis is a severe form of diverticulosis, the abnormal presence of diverticula (small pouches on the outside of the colon). You can have diverticulosis your whole life without knowing it. The symptoms mimic other mild gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses brought on by low-fiber diets.

 

Fiber-rich foods strengthen the muscles of the intestinal walls that move food through the body. When the colon cannot push food out of the body, pressure builds. The food builds up and overwhelms areas of the muscular colon wall, which causes weak spots that bulge and form the pouches.

 

Research suggests harmful germs in the gut or bacteria from undigested stool find their way into the pouches and result in an infection.

 

With uncomplicated diverticulitis, the inflammation causes abdominal pain due to a microperforation (tiny hole) in the colon or from infection that can be treated with antibiotics. With complicated diverticulitis, abscesses (collections of pus from the infection) form that may penetrate the intestinal wall. A complicated case may need emergency surgery to prevent a fatal infection.

Why Patients Choose the Underwood Center

Patients place their trust in the center because of evidence-based, individualized medical treatment and its state-of-the-art keyhole (small incisions) surgical techniques, skilled staff trained to provide expert care, rapid recovery times and a smooth transition from hospital to home.

 

Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.

 

Our hospital has five out of five stars for patients’ willingness to recommend us to others.

More Gastroenterology Conditions We Treat

  • Achalasia– difficulty passing food and liquid into the stomach
  • Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction – a rare, phantom physical blockage that feels real
  • Constipation – infrequent bowel movements causing hard, dry stools
  • Difficult defecation – difficulty pooping, leading to constipation
  • Dysphagia– problems swallowing
  • Dyspepsia– indigestion
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis – allergic condition in the esophagus
  • Fecal incontinence – inability to control bowel movements
  • Food intolerance – prevents breakdown of certain foods due to sensitivity
  • Functional heartburn– symptoms of heartburn without actual exposure to acid
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease– also called GERD, severe and ongoing acid reflux
  • Gastroparesis – prevents proper stomach emptying 

Diverticulitis Symptoms, Treatments & Recovery

What are the signs and symptoms of diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is the inflammation of diverticulosis. Schedule an appointment when you notice warning signs, such as:

  • Abdominal pain (most commonly in the lower left side of the abdomen)
  • Bleeding
  • Chronic cramping
  • Cold chills/night sweats
  • Constant bloating
  • Fever
  • Increased constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

How is diverticulitis treated?

Houston Methodist’s gastroenterologists can detect diverticulitis with a simple abdominal ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. The goal of treatment is to clear the colon of inflammation and infection to minimize any possible complications. Immediate options may include a change in diet to nothing by mouth or clear fluids, pain medications and antibiotics.

 

In most cases, we treat uncomplicated diverticulitis with antibiotics and rest of the large intestine. Complicated diverticulitis may require emergency treatment, special imaging techniques or minimally invasive surgery. Our multispecialty team of doctors create a disease management plan.

Can I recover from diverticulitis?

Most people with diverticulitis have a complete recovery. Severe cases cause infection (sepsis) when inflamed sacs penetrate intestinal walls, burst and spill fecal matter into the bloodstream. Sepsis can be life-threatening and requires immediate attention from a physician.

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    The First-Ever Completely Minimally Invasive Robotic Diverticulitis Surgery

    Houston Methodist’s surgical team pioneered this surgery in 2018 and we continue to be one of the only centers in the world that performs it.

    Read about the procedure >