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01.12.2003 | Gastrointestinal | Ausgabe 12/2003

European Radiology 12/2003

The role of ultrasound in the diagnosis, management and evolutive prognosis of acute left-sided colonic diverticulitis: a review of 208 patients

European Radiology > Ausgabe 12/2003
Tomás Ripollés, Marcos Agramunt, María Jesús Martínez, Salvador Costa, Segundo A. Gómez-Abril, José Richart


The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of ultrasound in the diagnosis and management of acute diverticulitis and its capacity to predict posterior complications in patients undergoing medical treatment. A review was made of the histories of 208 hospitalized patients (262 admissions) initially diagnosed with acute diverticulitis over a 5-year period. Ultrasound was performed in all patients upon first admission. Diverticulitis was retrospectively classified as either simple or complicated, the latter being defined by the presence of extraluminal air and/or abscesses. Diverticulitis was finally diagnosed in 203 patients. Ultrasound exhibited a sensitivity of 86% in 77 cases subjected to surgery, and of 94% in the global 203 patients (192 true-positive and 11 false-negative findings). Of 34 patients with diverticulitis and emergency surgery, 10 had false-negative US exams. Twenty of the 73 cases (27%) with signs of complicated diverticulitis in the initial ultrasound study required emergency surgery, compared with only 4 of the 119 patients (3%) with US evidence of simple diverticulitis (p<0.001). Of the 169 patients with diverticulitis undergoing conservative management, 54 (32%) developed complications during follow-up. The patients under age 50 years with signs of complicated diverticulitis suffered more complications (65%) than the rest of groups (p<0.001). In subjects with recurrences (26%), these were either similar to or less than the first episode in 84% of the cases. The present study shows that ultrasound constitutes a feasible technique for diagnosing acute diverticulitis. The severity of diverticulitis according to US is statistically predictive of surgical risk during the acute phase. Severity is also related to the appearance of posterior complications in patients undergoing conservative management, although only in younger patients (<50 years).

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