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Acute colonic diverticulitis in patients under 50 years of age. BJS 2002; 89: 1137-1141.

Published: 29th November 2002

Authors: S. Biondo, D. Parés, J. Martí Ragué, E. Kreisler, D. Fraccalvieri, E. Jaurrieta et al.


There is ongoing controversy concerning the virulence and management of diverticulitis in young patients. This study reports on the management of acute diverticulitis with reference to the virulence and outcome of the disease with respect to age.


Between January 1994 and June 1999, 327 patients were treated for acute left colonic diverticulitis. Patients were divided in two groups: those aged 50 years or less (group 1, 72 patients) and those older than 50 years (group 2, 255 patients). The diagnosis was confirmed histologically or radiologically in all patients.


There were differences in gender distribution related to age (P < 0·001). During the first hospital stay, 226 patients (69·1 per cent) had successful conservative treatment, 78 (23·9 per cent) needed emergency surgery and 23 (7·0 per cent) had a semielective operation (P = 0·47). The recurrence rate was 25·5 per cent in group 1 and 22·3 per cent in group 2 (P = 0·93). The type of surgical procedure and grade of peritonitis in emergency patients were similar in the two groups. Overall the mortality rate in patients who underwent an operation was 16·3 per cent. The mortality rate was zero in group 1 and 2·2 per cent in group 2 after elective or semielective operation (P = 1·0), and zero in group 1 and 34·9 per cent in group 2 after emergency operation (P < 0·001).


Diverticulitis in young patients does not have a particularly aggressive course and the risk of recurrence is similar to that of older patients. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd

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