The more serious cases of diverticulitis (inflamed or infected diverticula) may need hospitalization or surgery in order to treat the condition. Diverticulitis becomes serious when complications occur.
Complications of diverticulitis include bleeding that is not controlled or stops on its own, bowel obstruction, or peritonitis. Complications from diverticulitis often mean that a section of the bowel tissue has become damaged or that the condition has spread from the colon into the abdominal cavity. The patient may experience severe abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. Complications occur when diverticulitis is not caught early on, or when antibiotics and rest alone cannot control the condition.
Hospitalization is often required for individuals with diverticulitis in order to administer intravenous antibiotics. Individuals experiencing severe vomiting, or who have a fever of above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and who have a high white blood cell count, or the doctor feels are at risk for a bowel obstruction, or peritonitis or other abdominal complications may require hospitalization to monitor or treat the signs they are experiencing. Vomiting may lead to dehydration, which may be treated with intravenous fluids.
There are two surgical procedures that are performed in connection with diverticulitis. They are Primary Bowel Resection, which is also referred to as Sigmoid Resection or Segmental Resection and a Bowel Resection with Colostomy.
Primary Bowel Resection
In the Primary Bowel Resection a surgeon will remove the damaged section of the intestine and then will reconnect healthy segments of the colon (anastomosis), which will allow the individual to have normal bowel movements. The surgeon may chose to perform a laparoscopic method instead of the traditional surgical methods because they require smaller incisions and the patient recovers faster.
Bowel Resection with a Colostomy
The bowel resection with a colostomy is where the surgeon does the procedure (Hartmann’s procedure) as a response to a colon that has become so inflamed that it is not safe to rejoin any segments of the colon and the rectum. This usually means that the patient is in a life-threatening situation.
The colostomy is usually a temporary situation that is used to give the colon a chance to heal and for the inflammation and infection to be controlled. There may be situations in which the colostomy is permanent. Usually it takes just a few months for the inflammation and infection to be controlled and then a second surgery is done to reconnect the colon and the rectum so that the patient can again have normal bowel movements.