Triage of patients with acute diverticulitis: are some inpatients candidates for outpatient treatment?

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Current recommendations regarding the triage of patients with acute diverticulitis for inpatient or outpatient treatment are vague. We hypothesized that a significant number of patients treated as an inpatient could be managed as an outpatient.


A retrospective cohort study was carried out of 639 patients admitted for a first episode of diverticulitis. The diagnosis of acute diverticulitis was confirmed by computed tomography (CT). The endpoints included length of stay, need for surgery, percutaneous drainage and mortality. Patients were considered to have had a minimal hospitalization, defined as survival to discharge without needing a procedure, hospitalization of ≤ 3 days and no readmission for diverticulitis within 30 days after discharge.


Of 639 patients, 368 (57.6%) had a minimal hospitalization. Female gender and CT scan findings of free air/fluid were negatively associated with the likelihood of minimal hospitalization. The presence of an abscess < 3 cm and stranding on CT did not predict the need for a higher level of care. Despite the statistical significance of several patient-level predictors, the model did not identify patients likely to need only minimal hospitalization.


Most patients admitted with acute diverticulitis are discharged after minimal hospitalization. Free air/liquid in a patient admitted for acute diverticulitis indicates a more severe clinical course.

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