The natural history of symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease: a long-term follow-up study

Authors Antonio Tursi, Marilisa Franceschi, Walter Elisei, Marcello Picchio, Francesco Di Mario, Giovanni Brandimarte.


Background Symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease (SUDD) affects about 20% of patients who have diverticulosis. However, the natural history of SUDD is not yet completely understood. Our aim was to assess the outcomes of a cohort of SUDD patients during a long-term follow up.

Methods One hundred eighty-five patients suffering from SUDD were identified from a large electronic database. Symptoms assessed were abdominal pain, bloating, bowel movement/day, each of which was scored using a visual analogic scale (VAS); the symptom score was calculated by considering the value of the worst symptom present during assessment. Another VAS was used to assess patients’ quality of life (QoL). Patients were treated at the physician’s discretion (with rifaximin, mesalazine, probiotics, spasmolytics) only when symptoms occurred during the follow up. Follow-up visit was performed every year or whenever patients consider it necessary.

Results During the follow up (156 months, interquartile range 9-171), 47 patients were lost to follow up. Among these, 9 died from causes not related to SUDD. Acute diverticulitis occurred in 14 patients (7.6% of the overall population): 6 patients (3.2% of the overall population) underwent surgery, and 2 patients (1.1% of the overall population) died because of peritonitis. Both the symptom score and the QoL score were substantially unmodified during the study period.

Conclusions SUDD is an important disease able to affect patients significantly in the long term. Acute diverticulitis may sometimes occur in these patients, often leading to surgery with possible severe complications.

Keywords Symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease, acute diverticulitis, outcome, quality of life

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (2): 208-213

Original Articles