Rethinking surgery for diverticulitis
This year in the United States, there will be an estimated 300,000 hospital admissions for diverticulitis, resulting in patients spending a total of 1.5 million days in the hospital. Diverticulitis is one of the most common reasons to be hospitalized because of a gastrointestinal condition, and one of the leading causes for colon resection, which involves the surgical removal of a part or all of the large intestine (colon).
Surgeons are trained to offer elective operations after a few episodes of diverticulitis. In these cases, the colon resection is a non-emergency surgery that is done in order to prevent future recurrences of diverticulitis and avoid emergency surgeries later on. However, most emergency surgery happens during the first hospitalization for diverticulitis. And evidence in the last few years, in part from CERTAIN collaborators in Washington State, has shown that the risk of recurrence of diverticulitis is small. Furthermore, it seems that the risk of recurrence is similar among those not having surgery as compared to those who do have surgery.
Accordingly, multiple professional societies are calling for “individualized” decisions around elective colectomy. There is an international focus on making sure surgery is done for the right reasons and for patients who will truly benefit from an operation. At CERTAIN, we believe that rethinking surgery for diverticulitis should come from a patient-centered approach that considers the risks of recurrence, quality of life, patient wishes and experiences about surgical and medical treatments, and potential health impact or risks of surgery.
This is why at CERTAIN, we partner with people who have experienced diverticulitis, called Patient Advisors, to help surgeons, clinicians, and researchers in our network provide top-notch care and conduct research that is meaningful to patients.
Over the next few years, CERTAIN Patient Advisors and researchers will be undertaking several studies to:
Understand important differences between younger and older patients having surgery for diverticulitis
Compare how patients and providers make decisions around surgery for diverticulitis
Determine how patients' lives are impacted by diverticulitis whether or not they have surgery, by checking on them regularly over several years and measuring the burden the disease has caused