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What is Diverticular Disease?

Diverticular disease involves the formation of small pockets in the lining of the bowel. These pockets, also known as diverticula, can be as small as a pencil eraser or much larger and can form as a result of gas, fluid, or waste exerting pressure on weak spots on the intestinal walls over a period of time. Individuals with constipation are at an increased risk for the disease, as straining during bowel movements can cause the pockets to develop, especially in the sigmoid colon, which is the lower part of the large intestine.

The formation of pockets in the bowel is known as diverticulosis and is common, affecting 10 percent of individuals over 40 and 50 percent of individuals over 60. In most cases, diverticulosis involves no symptoms, however, diverticular disease can involve the development of two other conditions, which may result in complications. These conditions are:

  • Diverticular bleeding – This occurs when one or more diverticula begin to bleed, causing a large amount of blood to appear in the stool. Typically bleeding will resolve on its own.
  • Diverticulitis – This is an infection and inflammation of one or more diverticula, which can occur suddenly and cause diarrhea, constipation, and painful cramps in the lower intestine.

Individuals with diverticulosis who are not experiencing symptoms may not require treatment and can prevent further complications through lifestyle modifications, such as eating a high fiber diet. For those who do develop complications from diverticular disease, the physicians at Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center can help. Our team of specialists uses the latest advancements in diagnostic technologies to determine what complications from diverticular disease you are experiencing and at risk for, and then recommend and perform the non-surgical or surgical intervention that is most likely to result in a positive outcome.

Tampa General Hospital was named one of America’s Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery in 2017-18 by U.S. News & World Report. To find a gastroenterologist who can treat diverticular disease, click here to use our Physician Finder or call 1-800-822-3627.