Pope francesco is hospitalized at Gemini of Roma to undergo surgery. This is a scheduled operation for one symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon. The diverticula are extroflexions (= outward development) typically multiple of the intestinal wall caused by an increase in pressure within the colon. Their appearance is frequent in subjects of age over 65 and is favored by incorrect eating habits (low-slag diet) and constipation. Often they do not cause any disturbance and do not need treatment. In some cases, inflammation of the diverticulum wall caused by a growth of bacteria within the diverticular cavity (diverticular disease or diverticulitis) may develop. In this hypothesis, the patient experiences violent abdominal pain, fever and sometimes proctorrhages.
In cases of greater severity, perforation of the diverticular wall with peritonitis can occur (= infection of the peritoneal cavity linked to the spread of fecal material inside the abdominal cavity). In other cases, the chronic state of inflammation of the intestinal wall causes the development of a scarring process with diverticular stenosis (= narrowing of the lumen, i.e. of the internal, intestinal space). Treatment of diverticulitis is initially medical (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and suspension of nutrition for a few days). In case of stenosis or perforation, surgery is indicated.
Colon diverticulosis remains asymptomatic in the majority of cases, and the finding occurs occasionally during radiological or endoscopic investigations for other indications, for example during colorectal cancer screening; diverticulitis develops in 5-20% of cases with highly variable clinical pictures, from an uncomplicated symptomatic form characterized by recurrent abdominal pain similar to irritable bowel syndrome, up to acute diverticulitis with severe and prolonged abdominal pain, alterations of the alvo and fever, which in 5% can be complicated with fistulas, abscesses, obstructions and strictures, and is often burdened by a high percentage of morbidity and mortality.