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Use of antibiotics in uncomplicated diverticulitis




The value of antibiotics in the treatment of acute uncomplicated left-sided diverticulitis is not well established. The aim of this review was to assess whether or not antibiotics contribute to the (uneventful) recovery from acute uncomplicated left-sided diverticulitis, and which types of antibiotic and route of administration are most effective.


Medline, the Cochrane Library and Embase databases were searched. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), prospective or retrospective cohort studies addressing conservative treatment of mild uncomplicated left-sided diverticulitis and use of antibiotics were included.


No randomized or prospective studies were found on the topic of effect on outcome. One retrospective cohort study was retrieved that compared a group treated with antibiotics with observation alone. This study showed no difference in success rate between groups. Only one RCT of moderate quality compared intravenous and oral administration of antibiotics, and found no differences. One other RCT of very poor quality compared two different kinds of intravenous antibiotic and also found no difference. A small retrospective cohort study comparing antibiotics with and without anaerobe coverage showed no difference in group outcomes.


Evidence on the use of antibiotics in mild or uncomplicated diverticulitis is sparse and of low quality. There is no evidence mandating the routine use of antibiotics in uncomplicated diverticulitis, although several guidelines recommend this. Copyright © 2011 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.