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Background

The severity of acute diverticulitis ranges from mild, simple inflammation to pericolic abscesses, or perforation with faeculent peritonitis. Treatment of diverticulitis has evolved towards more conservative and minimally invasive strategies. The aim of this review is to highlight recent concepts and advances in management.

Methods

A literature review was performed on the electronic databases MEDLINE from PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library for publications in English. The keywords ‘diverticulitis’, ‘diverticular’ were searched for the past decade (to September 2013).

Results

Diverticulitis occurs frequently in the Western world, but only one in five patients develops complications (such as abscess and perforation) during the first acute presentation. The reported perforation rate is 3·5 per 100 000 population. Based on recent data, including the AVOD and DIVER trials, antibiotic therapy for mild episodes may be unnecessary and outpatient management reasonable in most patients. Antibiotics and admission to hospital is required for complicated diverticulitis confirmed on imaging and for patients with sepsis. Diverticular abscesses (about 5 per cent of patients) may require percutaneous drainage if antibiotics alone fail. Laparoscopic management of non-faecal perforated diverticulitis is feasible in selected patients, and peritoneal lavage in combination with antibiotic therapy may avoid colonic resection and a stoma. However, the collective, published worldwide experience is limited to fewer than 800 patients, and results from ongoing randomized trials (LapLAND, SCANDIV, DILALA and LADIES trials) are needed to inform better decision-making.

Conclusion

The treatment of diverticulitis continues to evolve with a trend towards a more conservative and minimally invasive management approach. Judicious use of antibiotics in uncomplicated cases, greater application of laparoscopic techniques, and primary resection and anastomosis are of benefit in selected patients.