Giant colonic diverticulum

Dr Dan J Bell and Dr Bruno Di Muzio et al.

A giant colonic diverticulum is a rare form of presentation of colonic diverticulosis and is characterised by a large diverticular mass, usually filled with stool and gas, that communicates with the colonic lumen.  

The most common presentation is abdominal pain. Other presenting symptoms include constipation, abdominal masses, vomiting, diarrhoea and rectal bleeding 5.

The majority (>90%) arise from the sigmoid colon 1,3, but it can occur in any part of the colon.

They are thought to arise either from:

  1. pseudodiverticula of the sigmoid colon in which the mucosa herniates through the muscular wall and becomes progressively enlarged by colonic gas via a ball-valve type mechanism 4.
  2. gas-forming organisms present in an already formed pseudodiverticulum produce gas, which progressively distends the diverticulum 4.

CT is the best imaging modality for diagnosis and colonoscopies rarely carried out due to the risk of perforation 2. CT shows the diverticulum as a gas, fluid or faeces-filled cavity sometimes with calcification in the case of chronic inflammation. There is usually no contrast enhancement unless there is active inflammation 2.

Abdominal x-rays may show large gas-filled cysts with an air-fluid level 5.

The definitive treatment for a giant diverticulum is surgery 2.


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Article information

rID: 29835
Section: Gamuts
Tags: cases, stub
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Giant colonic diverticula
  • Giant colic diverticulum
  • Giant colic diverticula

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: right colon
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    Case 2: sigmoid
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    Case 3
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