Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Laparoscopic surgery for diverticular disease

4-minute read

This page will give you information about laparoscopic surgery for diverticular disease. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is diverticular disease?

Diverticular disease is the name given to a condition where bulges form in the lining of your colon. It becomes more common with age, affecting 5 in 100 people over the age of 40, increasing to 60 in 100 people over the age of 80.

Most people with diverticular disease have few, if any, symptoms. However, a small proportion do have enough problems to need surgery to remove the affected portion of their bowel.

Illustration showing laparoscopic surgery for diverticular disease
Laparoscopic surgery for diverticular disease

Diverticular disease is probably caused by too little fibre in the diet over many years. This results in high pressure within your bowel, causing the lining of your bowel to bulge through the muscle wall.

The bulges can become infected and inflamed (diverticulitis), leading to severe pain and aching in the lower left side of your abdomen. The disease can also cause a narrowing in your bowel, an abscess to form, an abnormal connection between your abdomen and other organs (fistula), and heavy bleeding.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should no longer have the symptoms that are caused by diverticular disease and your quality of life should improve.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Painful episodes of diverticular disease may be treated with repeated courses of antibiotics. Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet may help but the diverticulae will not get better.

If a fistula has developed, it will probably not heal without surgery.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 2 hours. Your surgeon will make several small cuts on your abdomen. They will insert surgical instruments, along with a telescope, inside your abdomen and perform the operation.

Your surgeon will remove part of your colon. They will usually join the ends of your bowel back together inside your abdomen. For safety reasons, they may make a stoma (your bowel opening onto your skin).

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • developing a hernia in the scar
  • unsightly scarring
  • blood clots
  • chest infection
  • difficulty passing urine

Specific complications

  • damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
  • developing a hernia near one of the cuts
  • surgical emphysema
  • anastomotic leak
  • continued bowel paralysis
  • tissues can join together in an abnormal way
  • damage to other structures inside your abdomen
  • death

How soon will I recover?

It is usual for your bowel to stop working for a few days.

If you have a temporary or permanent stoma, you will need to learn how to change the bag and care for your stoma. If you have a stoma, it will take time for you to become confident with it.

You should be able to go home after 5 to 10 days. It may take up to three months for you to recover fully.

It is not unusual for your bowels to be more loose than they were before the operation and for you to need to go to the toilet more often each day. This is normal and should improve with time. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a good recovery.

Summary

Diverticular disease of the colon can cause pain and other serious problems. Surgery to remove the affected part of your bowel should prevent your symptoms from coming back.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Last reviewed: September 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Diverticulitis (diverticular disease) information | myVMC

Diverticulosis or diverticular disease of the colon is characterised by pouches in the lining of the large bowel which get blocked, causing inflammation.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Diverticular disease and diverticulitis - myDr.com.au

Diverticulitis happens when out-pouchings in the bowel wall called diverticula become inflamed or infected, due to faecal matter becoming lodged in the pouches.

Read more on myDr website

My doctor said Ive got diverticular disease, what should I eat? Dietitians Association of Australia

My doctor said Ive got diverticular disease, what should I eat? Diverticular disease affects the large bowel, it causes small pockets or pouches to stick out beyond the bowel wall

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

Bowel problems: Constipation symptoms and relief informtion | myVMC

Constipation is a gastrointestinal condition characterised by lack of regular bowel movements. It may lead to anorectal disorders or diverticular disease.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis

Diverticulosis occurs when small defects in the muscle of the wall of the large intestine or colon allow small pockets or pouches (diverticula) to form. Diverticulitis is infection or inflammation of these abnormal pouches. Together, these conditions are called diverticular disease.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Steatorrhoea (fatty, pale, loose stools) information | MyVMC

Steatorrhoea is a symptom of malabsorption syndrmes like coeliac disease. It causes pale, smelly and loose stools with a high fat content.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Abdominal Pain | myVMC

Abdominal pain is a very common medical condition that can either be acute or chronic in nature. Basically it refers to pain that is felt within the abdomen which is the region of the body bounded by the ribs superiorly and the pelvis below.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Dietary fibre: key for a happy, healthy gut Dietitians Association of Australia

Dietary fibre: key for a happy, healthy gut The gut plays a big role in your total health, so eating more fibre-containing foods has many health benefits

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

Constipation: causes and symptoms - myDr.com.au

What is constipation? Find out about symptoms, causes, risk factors and diagnosis. Plus, when you should seek medical advice.

Read more on myDr website

Dietary fibre

Dietary fibre includes parts of plant foods that do not fully digest and pass through our stomach and bowel without much change. Eating a high fibre diet provides health benefits, many of which we are still learning about.

Read more on Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo