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The incidence of diverticulitis has increased by 50% in the U.S. (2015-10-16)

Diverticulitis became more common in the U.S. between 1980 and 2007, a new study suggests. The findings are from a study led by Dr. Adil E. Bharucha of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, but other research indicates that hospitalizations for diverticulitis also increased in the U.S. generally during this period.

Data on the incidence and natural history of diverticulitis are largely hospital-based and exclude the majority of diverticulitis patients, who are treated in an outpatient setting for uncomplicated diverticulitis. Researchers assessed temporal trends in the epidemiology of diverticulitis in the general population.

So-called diverticula, which are small pouches along the large intestine, become more common with age. The presence of these pouches is called diverticulosis. If the pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis.

Through the Rochester Epidemiology Project researchers reviewed the records of all individuals with a diagnosis of diverticulitis from 1980 to 2007 in Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA.

In 19801989, the incidence of diverticulitis was 115/100,000 person-years, which increased to 188/100,000 in 20002007 (P<0.001).
Incidence increased with age (P<0.001); however, the temporal increase was greater in younger people (P<0.001).

Ten years after the index and second diverticulitis episodes, 22% and 55% had a recurrence, respectively. This recurrence rate was greater in younger people and women.
Complications were seen in 12%; this rate did not change over time.
Recurrent diverticulitis was associated with a decreased risk of complications (P<0.001).
Age was associated with increased risk of local complications.

Survival after diverticulitis was lower in older people (P<0.001) and men (P<0.001) and worsened over time (P<0.001).
The incidence of surgery for diverticulitis did not change from 1980 to 2007.

The incidence of diverticulitis has increased by 50% 1980 and 2007 and more so in younger people. Complications are relatively uncommon. Recurrent diverticulitis is frequent but typically uncomplicated. Younger people with diverticulitis have less severe disease, more recurrence, and better survival.

Experts do not know why the incidence of diverticulitis has been on the rise.

For more information
The American Journal of Gastroenterology
Temporal Trends in the Incidence and Natural History of Diverticulitis: A Population-Based Study