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Dis Colon Rectum. 2010 Mar;53(3):333-8. doi: 10.1007/DCR.0b013e3181c3808c.

Presentation and treatment outcome of diverticulitis in younger adults: a different disease than in older patients?

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Department of Visceral Surgery University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland.



The severity and most appropriate treatment of diverticulitis in young patients are still controversial. The aim of this study is to compare young patients (<or=50 years) with older patients (>50 years) regarding clinical and radiologic parameters of acute left colonic diverticulitis and to determine whether differences exist in presentation and treatment.


We reviewed medical records of 271 consecutive patients with left colonic acute diverticulitis admitted to our institution from 2001 through 2004: 71 patients were aged 50 years or younger and 200 patients were older than 50. Clinical and radiologic parameters were analyzed. Conservative treatment was standardized, and included antibiotic therapy and bowel rest. Criteria for emergency surgical treatment were diffuse peritonitis, pneumoperitoneum, and septic shock.


Conservative treatment alone was successful in 64 patients (90.1%) in the younger group and in 152 patients (76%) in the older group (P = .017). The percentage of patients requiring surgery at admission or during the hospital stay was significantly lower in younger than in older patients (5.6% vs 20.5%, P = .007), and the percentage of patients requiring emergency end colostomy was higher (although not significantly) in the older group (1.4% vs 9.0%, P = .059). No differences in rate of successful conservative treatment were observed between patients with a first episode and those with recurrence in either age group (P = .941 in the younger group; P = .227 in the older group).


Young age is not a predictive factor of poor outcome in the management of first or recurrent episodes of acute diverticulitis. Patients older than 50 years more frequently need emergency surgical treatment.

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