The colon (large intestine) is a long tube-like structure that stores and then
eliminates waste material. As a person ages, pressure within the colon causes bulging
pockets of tissue (sacs) that push out from the colon walls. A small bulging sac pushing
outward from the colon wall is called a diverticulum. More than one bulging sac is
referred to as diverticula. Diverticula can occur throughout the colon but are most common
near the end of the left colon called the sigmoid colon. The condition of having these
diverticula in the colon is called diverticulosis. A patient with diverticulosis may have
few or no symptoms. When a diverticulum becomes infected and ruptures, the condition is
called diverticulitis. A patient suffering from diverticulitis will have abdominal pain
and tenderness, and fever. When bleeding originates from a diverticulum, it is called
diverticular bleeding. A patient who suffers the consequences of harboring diverticulosis
in the colon is referred to as having diverticular disease.
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