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Evolving practice patterns in the management of acute colonic diverticulitis: a population-based analysis


Background — There is increasing evidence to support the use of percutaneous abscess drainage, laparoscopy, and primary anastomosis in managing acute diverticulitis.

Objective — The aim of this study was to evaluate how practices have evolved and to determine the effects on clinical outcomes.

Design — This is a population-based retrospective cohort study using administrative discharge data.

Setting — This study was conducted in Ontario, Canada.

Patients — All patients had been hospitalized for a first episode of acute diverticulitis (2002-2012).

Main outcome measures — Temporal changes in treatment strategies and outcomes were evaluated by using the Cochran-Armitage test for trends. Multivariable logistic regression with generalized estimating equations was used to test for trends while adjusting for patient characteristics.

Results — There were 18,543 patients hospitalized with a first episode of diverticulitis, median age 60 years (interquartile range, 48-74). From 2002 to 2012, there was an increase in the proportion of patients admitted with complicated disease (abscess, perforation), 32% to 38%, yet a smaller proportion underwent urgent operation, 28% to 16% (all p < 0.001). The use of percutaneous drainage increased from 1.9% of admissions in 2002 to 3.3% in 2012 (p < 0.001). After adjusting for changes in patient and disease characteristics over time, the odds of urgent operation decreased by 0.87 per annum (95% CI, 0.85-0.89). In those undergoing urgent surgery (n = 3873), the use of laparoscopy increased (9% to 18%, p <0.001), whereas the use of the Hartmann procedure remained unchanged (64%). During this time, in-hospital mortality decreased (2.7% to 1.9%), as did the median length of stay (5 days, interquartile range, 3-9; to 3 days, interquartile range, 2-6; p <0.001).

Limitations — There is the potential for residual confounding, because clinical parameters available for risk adjustment were limited to fields existing within administrative data.

Conclusions — There has been an increase in the use of nonoperative and minimally invasive strategies in treating patients with a first episode of acute diverticulitis. However, the Hartmann procedure remains the most frequently used urgent operative approach. Mortality and length of stay have improved during this time.



Li D, Baxter NN, McLeod RS, Moineddin R, Wilton A, Nathens AB. Dis Colon Rectum. 2014; 57(12):1397-405.

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