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Br J Surg. 2002 May;89(5):546-54.

Pathogenesis of colonic diverticula.

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Departments of Surgery and Gastroenterology, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK.



Diverticula are herniations through the colonic wall and are therefore likely to be due to a weakness within the wall, an alteration in intracolonic pressures or a combination of these factors. This article reviews these aspects in relation to the pathogenesis of colonic diverticula.


Medline and Science Citation Index searches were performed to locate English language articles relating to the pathogenesis of colonic diverticulosis published since 1960. Manual cross-referencing was also performed and some historical articles were included.


Several theories now exist about the development of colonic diverticula. The majority of the evidence suggests that the morphological changes are the response to a lifelong consumption of a low-residue diet. However, there are complex relations between colonic structure, motility and dietary factors, and it is likely that all of these (and possibly genetic influences) play a role in the pathogenesis to a greater or lesser degree.

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