A duodenal diverticulum is an abnormal pouch that develops on the portion of the small intestine known as the duodenum. The development of this pouch does not usually cause any symptoms, although serious complications may develop. Some of the possible symptoms of this condition include reflux or abdominal discomfort, which primarily occur after eating. Complications may include infection, bowel obstruction, or rupture of the diverticulum. Any specific questions or concerns about the presence of this condition in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
The exact cause of a duodenal diverticulum is not clearly understood, although advancing age and poor dietary habits seem to play a significant role when determining risk factors for the development of this abnormal growth. Those who eat a lot of fatty or greasy foods as well as those more than the age of 40 have the highest risks of developing this problem. Studies have indicated that there may be a link between this condition and gallbladder disease in some instances.
In many cases, this condition is diagnosed as the result of medical tests designed to diagnose or treat a different condition because the diverticulum itself does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms. Some patients may experience gastrointestinal disturbances after eating, although this does not always occur following every meal. The nausea and pain associated with this issue are often mistaken for other medical conditions, causing many patients to avoid seeking medical attention until severe complications arise.
An infection known as diverticulitis may occur if the pouch becomes inflamed. Intense abdominal pain, nausea, and fever are typical signs of diverticulitis and should be reported to a doctor right away. Dietary changes and the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications are the standard form of treatment for mild cases of diverticulitis, although surgical intervention to repair the damaged portion of the intestines may become necessary, especially if the duodenal diverticulum ruptures or if a bowel obstruction occurs.
Surgery is not needed for most people who have a duodenal diverticulum. Pain medications or antacids may be recommended to treat any symptoms that may be present, and the patient is often encouraged to add more fiber to the diet. If rectal bleeding is present, an iron supplement may be suggested by the doctor. Antibiotics prescribed to treat an infection should be taken as directed, even if the symptoms seem to disappear.