The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the emergency surgical treatment of life-threatening complications of colonic diverticula.

Material and method. In the last 11 years, 22 of 101 patients with colonic diverticula (22.1%) underwent urgent surgery for acute complications: perforated gangrenous diverticulitis with generalized peritonitis (n=8) or pericolic abscess (n=8), acute bowel obstruction (n=4) and severe diverticular bleeding (n=2). In all patients with diffuse peritonitis or acute obstruction the indication for surgery was decided on clinical basis and the complicated diverticula were recognized only intra-operatively.

Results. Emergency surgical strategy differed according to the type of complication and the biologic condition of the patient: segmental colectomy and primary anastomosis for diverticular perforation (n=4), colonic stenosis (n=3) or diverticular bleeding (n=2); Hartmann resection with late reconnecting anastomosis in patients with diverticular perforation (n=5) or colonic obstruction (n=1); diverticulectomy with peritoneal drainage (n=2) and colostomy and drainage followed by secondary colectomy (n=5) for diverticular perforations in patients with poor general condition. Only one patient (4.5%) died post-operatively of multiple organ failure from generalized peritonitis. There was no anastomotic leakage in patients with primary anastomosis. Six patients (27.2%) developed wound infection. Hospital stay ranged between 11 and 60 days, significantly longer in cases with two-stage operations.

Conclusion. Primary colectomy with immediate or delayed anastomosis is the best surgical procedure for acute divericular complications in patients with good biologic status. Two-stage operations such as colostomy and drainage coupled with late colectomy remain the viable alternative in patients with advanced disease and critical biologic condition.

*Abstract presented at the Falk Symposium 148 „Diverticular Disease: Emerging Evidence in a Common Condition’’ , June 17- 18, 2005, Munich, Germany



Urgent surgery, colonic diverticula, diverticular perforation, colonic stenosis, diverticular bleeding