The vessels pass through small holes in the colon; if the holes widen, they give rise to diverticula. Professor Silvio Danese, Head of the Centre for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at Humanitas, a guest in the studio at Tutta Salute on Rai3, spoke about diverticula, diverticular disease and diverticulitis.

“We don’t know the real reason for the formation of diverticula: there is a game of pressure inside the intestine that favors – especially with advancing age – the formation of these small pockets”, explained Professor Danese.

The presence of diverticulitis (also called diverticulosis) is only an anatomical alteration, which is characterized by the formation of small pockets, these are asymptomatic and do not give any problem to the patient.

Diverticular disease is diagnosed when the first symptoms occur, and affects one third of patients.

Diverticulitis is a real inflammation, but it affects a small percentage of patients (2-3%).


Irritable colon and diverticular disease or diverticulitis: how to distinguish them?

“The colon always speaks to us in the same way. Symptoms typically include swelling, belly pain and changes in intestinal regularity. Those with diverticulas have above all pain on the left side; while in the presence of irritable colon, pain is widespread and affects the center of the belly. It is advisable, however, to consult a gastroenterologist for an appropriate diagnosis”, explains Prof. Danish.


Risk factors for diverticulitis

“As mentioned above, a risk factor for diverticulosis and therefore the formation of diverticulitis is age. Risk factors include: a low fiber diet, excessive consumption of meat or fatty foods, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (which can cause inflammation), as well as obesity and sedentary lifestyle,” he explains.


Diagnosis and treatment

“The diverticula have occasional confirmation, perhaps in screening colonoscopies that take place after the age of 50. Ultrasound, CT abdomen and virtual colonoscopy are the examinations that can be useful in diagnosis.

With diverticulosis, the primary recommendation is to ensure a diet rich in fiber, thus giving the green light to fruit and vegetables. In case of diverticular disease there are no drugs that prevent the risk of diverticulitis, the intake of antibiotics with intestinal release allows you to cure the symptoms. In the event of complications, surgery may be necessary,” explains Professor Danese.


Watch the full interview with Professor Silvio Danese, click here.