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Diverticular Disease

How Is Diverticular Disease Diagnosed?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 18:53

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Since a wide range of conditions produces symptoms that are similar to those of diverticular disease, diagnosis can be complicated. In addition to taking a medical history and performing a physical exam, tests may be required for a definitive diagnosis.

Medical History And Physical Exam

A doctor may suspect that a person has diverticular disease based on answers to questions about bowel habits, pain, symptoms, and diet.

The doctor may gently press on the abdomen to check for tenderness or for the existence of a mass in the intestinal area. A rectal exam will likely be performed to detect tenderness, blood, or a blockage in the rectum. A stool sample may also be checked for signs of blood.

Diagnostic Tests

The following tests are used to diagnose diverticular disease:

  • Barium enema and x-rays, which involves x-rays of the colon using a contrast medium (barium), which is introduced into the rectum by enema and is visible on the x-rays. The barium fills the pouches, making them easy to see on the x-ray.
  • Sigmoidoscopy, which involves the use of a thin, flexible, lighted instrument that is inserted through the rectum to examine the interior of the rectum and sigmoid colon.
  • Colonoscopy, which involves the use of a flexible, lighted instrument inserted through the rectum to examine the interior of the rectum and entire colon - a more extensive examination than a sigmoidoscopy.

Diverticular Disease