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Summary

Diverticular disease of the colon is the fifth most important gastrointestinal disease in terms of direct and indirect healthcare costs in western countries. Uncomplicated diverticular disease is defined as the presence of diverticula in the absence of complications such as perforation, fistula, obstruction and/or bleeding. The distribution of diverticula along the colon varies worldwide being almost always left-sided and directly related to age in western countries and right-sided where diet is rich in fibre.

The pathophysiology of diverticular disease is complex and relates to abnormal colonic motility, changes in the colonic wall, chronic mucosal low-grade inflammation, imbalance in colonic microflora and visceral hypersensitivity. Moreover, there can be genetic factors involved in the development of colonic diverticula.

The use of non-absorbable antibiotics is the mainstay of therapy in patients with mild to moderate symptoms, and the effect of fibre-supplementation alone does not appear to be significantly different from placebo, although no definite data are available.

More recently, alternative treatments have been reported. Mesalazine acts as a local mucosal immunomodulator and has been shown to improve symptoms and prevent recurrence of diverticulitis. In addition, probiotics have also been shown to be beneficial by re-establishing a normal gut microflora. In this study, the current literature on uncomplicated diverticular disease of the colon is reviewed.