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Tulane Doctors ~ Gastroenterology ~ Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is the diagnosis given to patients who have multiple Diverticulae in their colon or large bowel. A diverticulae is a sac-like protrusion through weak spots in the bowel. These diverticulae can become painfully, inflamed which is called diverticulitis or can erode into blood vessels and cause painless, colonic bleeding (diverticular bleeding). It is a very common condition and gets more prevalent as we age. Diverticulosis affects over half of the population over the age of 60.

The exact cause of diverticulosis is unknown, but it is believed that processed foods and low fiber may contribute. Currently a high fiber diet is recommended.

Diverticular Bleeding

Diverticular bleeding is the most common cause of brisk hematochezia (maroon or bright red blood with stool or in the commode). The food we eat travels from the stomach through a long tube called the intestine. The last part of this tube is the colon. This is where bowel movements are stored. As we age the colon sometimes has small out-pouchings in its walls called "diverticula" . These are formed usually in close vicinity to the blood vessels. People who have these pouches have no symptoms. Occasionally the wall may be eroded into the blood vessels which leads to brisk hematochezia (maroon or bright red blood). Diverticular bleeding may be severe and usually requires hospitalization. Fortunately bleeding often stops on its own and does not recur. A gastroenterologist, surgeon, and/or radiologist may help manage diverticular bleeding.

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