Treating diverticulitis focuses on:
- Clearing up the infection and inflammation
- Resting the colon
- Preventing or minimizing complications.
An attack of diverticulitis without complications may respond to antibiotics within a few days, if treated early. To help the colon rest, the doctor may recommend bed rest and a liquid diet, along with a pain reliever.
An acute attack with severe pain or severe infection may require a hospital stay. Most acute cases of diverticulitis are treated with antibiotics and a liquid diet. The antibiotics are given by injection into a vein. In some cases, however, surgery may be necessary.
If attacks are severe or frequent, your doctor may advise surgery. The surgeon removes the affected part of the colon and joins the remaining sections. This type of surgery, called colon resection, aims to keep attacks from coming back and to prevent complications. The doctor may also recommend surgery for complications of a fistula or intestinal obstruction.
If antibiotics do not correct an attack, emergency surgery may be required. Other reasons for emergency surgery include:
- A large abscess
- Continued bleeding.
Emergency surgery usually involves two operations. The first surgery will clear the infected abdominal cavity and remove part of the colon. Because of infection and sometimes obstruction, it is not safe to rejoin the colon during the first operation. Instead, the surgeon creates a temporary hole, or stoma, in the abdomen (stomach). The end of the colon is connected to the hole, a procedure called a colostomy, to allow normal eating and bowel movements. The stool goes into a bag attached to the opening in the abdomen. In the second operation, the surgeon rejoins the ends of the colon.