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Gut. 2004 May;53(5):717-22.

Colorectal visceral perception in diverticular disease.

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Gastrointestinal Research Unit, Department of Gastroenterology, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands.



The pathogenesis of asymptomatic diverticular disease (ADD) and symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease (SUDD) has not been elucidated. The aim of our study was to assess whether altered visceral perception or abnormal compliance of the colorectal wall play a role in these clinical entities.


Ten ADD patients, 11 SUDD patients, and nine healthy controls were studied. Using a dual barostat device, sensations were scored and compliance curves obtained using stepwise intermittent isobaric distensions of the rectum and sigmoid, before and after a liquid meal. In addition, the colonic response to eating was assessed by monitoring the volumes of both barostat bags at operating pressure before and after the meal.


In the rectum, perception was increased in the SUDD group compared with controls (p = 0.010) and the ADD group (p = 0.030). Rectal compliance curves were not different between the groups. In the sigmoid colon, perception in the pre- and postprandial periods was increased in SUDD compared with controls (p = 0.018) but not when compared with ADD. Sigmoid volume-pressure curves had comparable slopes (compliance) in all groups but were shifted downwards in SUDD compared with ADD in the preprandial period (p = 0.026). The colonic response to eating (decrease in intrabag volume) was similar in all three groups, both in the rectum and sigmoid.


Symptomatic but not asymptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease is associated with heightened perception of distension, not only in the diverticula bearing sigmoid, but also in the unaffected rectum. This hyperperception is not due to altered wall compliance.

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