Find Relief From Diverticulitis: A Closer Look At Surgical Solutions
Diverticula are tiny, bulging pouches in the digestive tract, especially the colon. Diverticulitis happens when these pouches become inflamed, mostly from infections, causing symptoms like stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, fever, and stomach cramps.
While diverticulitis can occur to anybody, there are higher chances of getting it if you are over 40 years, smoke, live a sedentary lifestyle, are obese, eat a diet with low fiber and high animal fat, and take certain medications.
Usually, mild diverticulitis can be treated using antibiotics, rest, diet changes, and probiotics. However, surgery is required if it becomes life-threatening and you experience one or several of the following symptoms.
- Rectal bleeding
- Several diverticulitis episodes that do not go away with medication or lifestyle changes
- Intensive abdominal pain and cramps for a few days
- Diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting that lasts over a few days
- Sepsis signs and symptoms
- Perforation or a hole in the colon
- Colon blockage that prevents you from passing waste
Is Diverticulitis Surgery Major?
There are two main types of diverticulitis surgeries depending on where the diverticulitis is, its severity, and how many diverticula there are.
Bowel resection with primary anastomosis
In this surgery, the surgeon first cuts out the infected part of the colon (colectomy). They then sew the healthy pieces of your colon back together from each side of the previously infected parts (anastomosis). It allows you to continue using your colon naturally without needing an ostomy bag.
Bowel resection with colostomy
In this surgery, the surgeon also performs a colectomy, cutting off the infected parts of the colon. However, they connect your bowel through an opening in the abdomen known as a stoma.
This procedure is known as a colostomy and usually results in you using an ostomy bag. Surgeons only use this procedure if there is a lot of inflammation. This procedure might be temporary or permanent, depending on your recovery in the following months.
Surgeons can perform both surgeries open or laparoscopically, depending on the severity of the inflammation.
The first step in the procedure is administering anesthesia. Afterward, the surgeon will make a six- to eight-inch incision in your abdomen for open surgery to allow them to see and access your intestines easily.
For laparoscopy, the surgeon makes three to five tiny incisions. They then fill your abdomen with gas to create more room for the surgery and insert a laparoscope plus other surgical instruments via the incisions.
In both surgical methods, the surgeon looks at other organs to ensure no problems before sewing up the incisions, cleaning, and bandaging.
How To Prepare For The Surgery
Your surgeon will advise you to do the following things a few weeks before the procedure.
- Stop taking blood thinners like aspirin and Advil
- Stop smoking permanently or temporarily because it makes it harder to heal
- Wait for existing fevers, flu, or colds to break
- Take a lot of fluids and laxatives to help empty your bowels
You will also need to only take water or clear liquids like juice and broth 24 hours before the procedure. However, for the last 12 hours, you should not eat or drink anything.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Diverticulitis Surgery?
It takes around two weeks to recover from the surgery and return to normal activities. However, you will remain in the hospital for the first two to seven days for observation by the doctors. When you go home, below are instructions your surgeon will give to promote recovery and avoid injuries.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects, exercising, and having sexual intercourse for at least the first two weeks
- Take only clear liquids for the first few days and slowly re-introduce solid foods following your doctor’s instructions
- Include high-fiber foods and avoid high-fat, processed, and fast foods
Depending on the type of procedure and recovery rate, the doctor might recommend you follow these instructions for a longer or shorter time.
If you underwent a colostomy and got an ostomy bag, follow your doctor’s instructions on how to use it and take care of your stoma. You must also buy extra ostomy pouches, stoma powder, ostomy flanges, and skin prep essentials.
What Is The Success Rate For Diverticulitis Surgery?
Around 15-25% of patients with an initial acute episode of diverticulitis suffer from a severe case and require surgery. Around 22% of the people who undergo surgery have future attacks, and the mortality rate is below 18%.
While it is a considerably safe procedure, below are some risks associated with diverticulitis surgery.
- Leaking in the colon
- Injury to neighboring organs
- Blood clots
- Colon blockage or narrowing from scar tissue
- Fecal incontinence
- Formation of abscess near the colon
- Stroke or heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
Whether you have mild diverticulitis that foes away without surgery or a severe case that requires surgery, ensure you follow all your doctor’s instructions and medication to avoid a future episode. If you end up with an ostomy bag, consult your doctor about the best supplies and how to take care of it.
Dr. Garcia from General & Bariatric Surgery of South Florida is one of the most renowned surgeons performing diverticulitis surgery. Email, call the customer care number, or visit the clinic for consultation or to book an appointment.