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Elective surgery after acute diverticulitis. BJS 2005; 92: 133-142.

Published: 31st January 2005

Authors: S. Janes, A. Meagher, F. A. Frizelle


Diverticulitis is a common condition. Practice guidelines from many organizations recommend bowel resection after two attacks. The evidence for such a recommendation is reviewed.


A Medline literature search was performed to locate English language articles on surgery for diverticular disease. Further articles were obtained from the references cited in the literature initially reviewed.


Most people with diverticulosis are asymptomatic. Diverticular disease occurs in over 25 per cent of the population, increasing with age. After one episode of diverticulitis one‐third of patients have recurrent symptoms; after a second episode a further third have a subsequent episode. Perforation is commonest during the first episode of acute diverticulitis. After recovering from an episode of diverticulitis the risk of an individual requiring an urgent Hartmann's procedure is one in 2000 patient‐years of follow‐up. Surgery for diverticular disease has a high complication rate and 25 per cent of patients have ongoing symptoms after bowel resection.


There is no evidence to support the idea that elective surgery should follow two attacks of diverticulitis. Further prospective trials are required. Copyright © 2005 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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