Treatment for Diverticular Disease

Treatment for diverticular disease varies depending on the severity of the condition. Mild cases of diverticulosis are often treated by increasing the amount of fiber in the diet and by using medications (e.g., pain relievers) to reduce symptoms.

Acute diverticulitis may be treated with antibiotics, pain medications, and a liquid diet to rest the GI tract. If this treatment is ineffective, the patient may require hospitalization.

Surgery may be necessary to treat diverticulitis that does not respond to treatment. Complications that may require surgery include the following:

  • Abscess
  • Fistula
  • Inability to rule out colon cancer
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Peritonitis

The most common surgical procedure used to treat diverticular disease is called colon resection. In this surgery, the affected section of the colon is removed and the remaining sections are rejoined.

Emergency surgery, for example, to treat peritonitis, usually is performed on two parts. In the first procedure, the infection is removed from the abdominal cavity and the affected section of the intestine is removed and an ostomy (e.g., colostomy) is performed. In the second surgical procedure, the remaining sections of the intestine are rejoined.

Prognosis (expected outcome) depends on the severity of the disease, complications, and the patient's overall health. A high-fiber diet may help prevent diverticular disease.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 30 May 2007

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015