People with the above symptoms are commonly studied with a computed tomography, or CT scan. The CT scan is very accurate (98%) in diagnosing diverticulitis.
In order to extract the most information possible about the patient's condition, thin section (5mm) transverse images are obtained through the entire abdomen and pelvis after the patient has been administered oral and intravascular contrast.
Images reveal localized thickening and hyperemia (increased blood flow) involving a segment of the colon wall, with inflammatory changes extending into the fatty tissues surrounding the colon.
The diagnosis of acute diverticulitis is made confidently when the involved segment contains diverticulae.
CT may also identify patients with more complicated diverticulitis, such as those with an associated abscess. It may even allow for radiologically guided drainage of an associated abscess, sparing a patient from immediate surgical intervention.
Other studies, such as barium enema and colonoscopy are contraindicated in the acute phase of diverticulitis due to the risk of perforation.
The differential diagnosis includes colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as a number of urological and gynecological processes.
Some patients report bleeding from the rectum.
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