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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015 Mar;27(3):305-12. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12526.

Changing views on diverticular disease: impact of aging, obesity, diet, and microbiota.

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Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK.


The development of colonic diverticulosis is a common aging change in industrialized nations. While most patients have asymptomatic diverticulosis, around one in five develops symptomatic diverticular disease. This is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and disturbed bowel habit. Some of the pain episodes are prolonged and are due to acute diverticulitis, which itself may be complicated by abscess, perforation, fistulation, or stricture formation. Risk factors favouring the development of symptomatic diverticular disease include obesity, smoking and diets low in fiber but high in red meat and animal fat. What determines the transition from asymptomatic diverticulosis to symptomatic diverticular disease is unclear but neuromuscular changes following acute diverticulitis may be responsible in some cases. The severity of symptoms generated depends on cerebral pain processing which is influenced by psychosocial factors. These are important considerations in deciding optimal patient management. Prior theories of the cause of diverticulosis suggested that constipation was an important cause, but new data challenge this and has provoked new ideas. Underlying mechanisms causing diverticulosis include weakening of the colonic wall and/or degenerative changes in the enteric nerves. Dietary induced changes in microbiota and the host inflammatory response may underlie the subsequent development of acute/chronic diverticulitis and its sequela.


diet; diverticulitis; diverticulosis; obesity; pain

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