Diverticular disease, where the inner lining of the intestine protrudes through the outer muscular coat to form a small pouch with a narrow neck, most commonly forms in the lower left corner of the colon (sigmoid colon). In Britain over half the healthy population above the age of 70 have colonic diverticular disease. Acute diverticulitis, fistula formation, abscess formation, haemorrhage and obstruction are all clinical presentations of diverticular disease which predominantly affects the sigmoid colon.
In some severe cases the symptoms of complex diverticular disease can be indistinguishable from those of bowel cancer and diagnosis is only made after surgery (resection). Often the two conditions can co-exist.
The Institute manages all forms of this disease in close conjunction with radiology colleagues. Both emergency and elective resections are performed along with conservative management when appropriate. In recent years the Institute has seen an increasing number of resections being performed in symptomatic younger patients (less than 40 years), and this may be an indicator of future trends in the surgical management of diverticular disease.