What is diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a condition caused by the inner lining of the colon bulging out through weaknesses in the bowel wall to form permanent, small spherical pea sized side chambers, still connected to the lumen of the bowel but on the outer surface of the bowel. Each bulge is called a diverticulum. This is a very slow process which occurs over a period of years.

Most people who have diverticular disease have no symptoms and are completely unaware of their condition.

Diverticular disease occurs in 60% of people over 60 years old and is uncommon in people below 40 years old.

What are the symptoms of diverticular disease?

Most patients have intermittent usually easy controlled symptoms which include fever, nausea and vomiting, pain, abdominal tenderness, constipations, persistent left sided pain.

When a single diverticulum becomes inflamed it causes severe pain and this is when it amounts to diverticulitis.

Treatment of diverticulitis:

The initial treatment of episodes of diverticulitis in the majority of patients is conservative and does not involve major surgery. Patients are usually advised to stop eating and rest the bowel and are usually given antibiotics.

Complications of diverticulitis:

A small number of patients do go on to develop serious complications from diverticulitis, usually because the diverticulum perforates which allows faeces or bowel contents to leak out into the peritoneal cavity.

In many patients this can be treated by CT guided drainage through the skin and abdominal wall. However, if the abscess does not resolve then the patient requires urgent surgery which does carry with it a high rate of post-operative complications and occasionally causes the death of the patient. The post-operative complications including having a permanent colostomy bag.

Diverticulitis and Medical Negligence:

With diverticular disease patients usually have intermittent, usually easily controlled symptoms. Patients are usually advised to take painkillers in respect of their stomach pain and to increase the among of fibre in their diet.

If, however, there is a delay in making a diagnosis of diverticular disease, complication can arise when the inflamed diverticular perforates and allows faeces or bowel contents to leak out into the peritoneal cavity which requires serious surgery and can become life threatening.

How can we help:

Diverticular is a common condition which can affect a large percentage of the population. If it is not managed in a timely fashion by your medical professionals, and you have suffered complications as a result of this delay and diagnosis in treatment, it may amount to medical negligence and you should seek legal advice immediately.

If you would like to discuss your possible medical negligence please contact us at McElhinney & Associates Solicitors on 074 91 75989 or complete our online enquiry form.

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**This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by McElhinney & Associates for any action taken in reliance on the information contained herein. Any and all information is subject to change.