July 2021 - Wishing the Pope a quick recovery
It appears that the Pope had been suffering with diverticular disease for quite some time. And repeated attacks had led to inflammation and scarring of the colon and subsequent narrowing meaning that he would be getting symptoms of pain particularly when eating. In the circumstances, medication is rarely the answer and surgery is needed to remove the narrowed piece of bowel. In my comment for the associated press agency I talk a little bit about this and what he would hope to expect over the coming days - link.
Diverticular disease is an increasingly common condition of the colon. It has been thought to be a 'wear and tear' disease that is more common in advancing age, however we are beginning to now see evidence of diverticular disease in much younger patients. The first an important thing to say is that it is not a malignant or cancerous condition but nevertheless can cause considerable symptoms of pain, discomfort and bowel disturbance. These all have a significant effect on quality of life.
The condition itself is due to 'blind alleys' or 'cul-de-sacs' coming off the colon at points of weakness. These can become more frequent over time and as stall passes through the colon can cause irritation, pain and even infection. When that act does happen we use the term diverticulitis. In most cases antibiotics can remedy the symptoms, but if the infection and inflammation progresses patients can often require more intensive treatment in the form of intravenous antibiotics, a drainage procedure or even surgery.
For those patients that are having persistent quality of life issues surgery can be a possibility. This involves excising and removing the portion of affected colon and joining the two ends together in most cases. There is a small chance of needing a stoma fitted.
At The London Clinic, we offer surgery for diverticular disease and in the vast majority of cases this would be performed as a raid as a robotic or a laparoscopic procedure. This means faster recovery, less complications and a quicker return to normal life. If you do have symptoms of diverticular disease and wish to discuss your options we would be more than happy to see you in the clinic.