What Is Duodenal Diverticulum?

Meshell Powell

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.

Symptoms of a duodenal diverticulum may include abdominal discomfort.
Symptoms of a duodenal diverticulum may include abdominal discomfort.

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.

Poor dietary habits may lead to the development of a duodenal diverticulum.
Poor dietary habits may lead to the development of a duodenal diverticulum.

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.

The duodenum is a portion of the small intestine.
The duodenum is a portion of the small intestine.

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.

A duodenal diverticulum occurs when an abnormal pouch develops on the duodenum.
A duodenal diverticulum occurs when an abnormal pouch develops on the duodenum.

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.

Antacids may be helpful in treating symptoms of a duodenal diverticulum.
Antacids may be helpful in treating symptoms of a duodenal diverticulum.

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Discussion Comments

AnswerMan

I have to admit that my diet used to be horrible. I ate a lot of fatty and greasy foods, and I had acid reflux episodes just about every day. My doctor prescribed acid reducers and told me to cut back on the junk food and late night eating. He thought I might be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or the beginnings of an ulcer.

Several months later, I had to have an emergency appendectomy and the surgeon did some exploration at my doctor's request. He found the duodenal diverticulum pouch. My doctor said I probably had diverticulitis at some point, and that was what was causing a lot of my abdominal pain after eating. He didn't think it was to the point of surgery, but he said I definitely needed to improve my overall diet.

Buster29

My elderly mother-in-law developed a severe case of diverticulitis, and the doctor seriously considered doing a minor surgical procedure. He put her on prescription antibiotics and painkillers instead, and urged her to change her diet. He was concerned that the infection may have already caused some permanent damage to her intestines, but she recovered well enough to avoid surgery.

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