Role of endoscopy after an acute episode of diverticulitis: analysis of a cohort of Portuguese patients from a tertiary referral center

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Acute diverticulitis represents an inflammatory process originating in a colonic diverticulum. Although acute diverticulitis usually follows a benign course – uncomplicated diverticulitis (UCD), up to 25% may develop complicated diverticulitis (CD) including abscesses, fistulas, strictures, and perforation. Current guidelines recommend performing colonoscopy after an episode of acute diverticulitis to rule out colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the literature supporting this recommendation is still scarce.

Aim and methods

Our aim was to assess the relevance of endoscopy following an acute diverticulitis. Using a large cohort from a tertiary center, we retrospectively evaluated endoscopic and histologic findings in patients with acute diverticulitis confirmed by abdominal ultrasound or computed tomography. Findings were characterized as (a) normal endoscopy (highlighting only the presence of diverticula), (b) abnormal endoscopy with low-grade lesions, and (c) abnormal endoscopy with high-grade lesions.


A total of 427 patients were evaluated, including 347 cases with UCD and 80 cases with CD. The prevalence of normal findings at endoscopy was 67.3%. An advanced adenoma or neoplasm was found in 23.7%. The estimated number of endoscopies required for diagnosing a CRC was 29 in UCD and 10 in CD. Increasing age and male sex were associated significantly with the presence of polyps at endoscopy. Increasing age was associated with CD and cancer.


In our series, the prevalence of high-grade lesions and CRC was higher than that in other studies. In our opinion, the findings justify endoscopic evaluation, especially in older patients with CD.

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