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Diverticulitis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pockets along your intestine called diverticula become inflamed or infected. This is caused by hard bowel movement, food, or bacteria that get stuck in the pockets.


WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests: Your healthcare provider may ask for blood and urine samples to find out how well your digestive system works.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to show diverticula in your intestine.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your abdomen. The pictures may show problems and abnormal changes in your intestine. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • Barium enema: A barium enema is an x-ray of the colon. A tube is put into your anus, and a liquid called barium is put through the tube. Barium is used so that caregivers can see your colon better on the x-ray film.
  • Endoscopy: This test is done to see the inside of your digestive tract. A scope (long bendable tube with a light on the end) is used to take pictures. This test may show problems with how your digestive tract is working. Samples may be taken from your digestive tract and sent to a lab for tests.

Treatment:

  • Bowel rest: At first, you will avoid solid foods to rest your bowel. You will be given IV fluids or placed on a clear liquid diet. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to eat solid foods again. You will begin with low-fiber foods, such as milk, eggs, tender meats, white bread, and mashed potatoes.
  • Drainage: Your healthcare provider may insert a small tube through an incision in your abdomen to drain pus from infected diverticula. This is done to reduce inflammation or treat infection.
  • Surgery: You may need surgery if other treatments do not work. A healthcare provider will remove the infected or inflamed areas of your colon. If a large portion of your colon is removed, you may need a colostomy. A colostomy is a procedure that allows your bowel movements to collect in a bag outside your body. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about surgery and colostomy.

RISKS:

After treatment, diverticulitis may come back. You may have more infections in your intestines or urinary tract. Your intestines could stop working correctly or rupture (tear). Bowel movement or urine could begin to leak into your other organs. This can be life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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