Author(s): Laurell H, Hansson LE, Gunnarsson U
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To describe the clinical presentation of acute diverticulitis in an emergency department and to characterize the natural history of diverticulitis in the short perspective. Comparisons are made with an important differential diagnosis, nonspecific abdominal pain (NSAP). METHOD: Patients admitted to our hospital with abdominal pain of up to 7 days' duration were registered prospectively using a detailed schedule for history, symptoms and signs, from 1 February 1997 to 1 June 2000. Of 3349 patients initially included, 3073 (92\%) were eligible for follow up after 1-3 years. RESULTS: Acute diverticulitis was the final diagnosis in 145 patients and NSAP in 1142 patients. The incidence of hospitalized patients with diverticulitis was 47 per year and 100 000 population, with a mean hospital stay of 3.3 days. Patients with diverticulitis, more frequently than NSAP, had a longer history and laboratory signs of inflammatory activity. Isolated left abdominal tenderness was more common in diverticulitis, whereas isolated right abdominal tenderness was more common in NSAP. Duration of symptoms on arrival was independent of age and was not correlated to C-reactive protein, leucocytes or body temperature. Sensitivity of diverticulitis as primary diagnosis was 64\% and specificity 97\%. Corresponding figures for NSAP were 43\% and 90\% respectively. Age and gender did not influence diagnostic accuracy or risk of surgery. CONCLUSION: Diverticulitis differs significantly from NSAP in clinical presentation and laboratory parameters. Sensitivity of primary diagnosis for diverticulitis and NSAP was low.
This article was published in Colorectal Dis
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access