Surgery for Diverticulitis: What to Expect

Diverticulitis is a colon condition that causes abdominal pain, nausea, and changes in bowel movements. It develops when pockets along your intestinal tract get inflamed or infected, and you need medical intervention to avoid complications if you have it.

Most people diagnosed with diverticulitis don’t need surgery. Conservative treatments like antibiotics and dietary changes can often successfully treat the infection and relieve your symptoms. But in severe or persistent cases, surgery may be necessary.

The most common surgery to treat diverticulitis is bowel resection. In bowel resection, our surgeons remove portions of the infected colon and reattach the ends with stitches. By removing the infected tissue, you’re less likely to continue experiencing diverticulitis symptoms.

If you’re considering surgery to treat diverticulitis, it’s time to learn what to expect. Rachel Alt, MD, Brian Prebil, DO, and our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery are experts in intestine surgery and colon surgery. Here, they offer a closer look at what happens during robot-assisted diverticulitis surgery.

Preparing for diverticulitis surgery

Before your scheduled surgery, our team gives you instructions to prepare for your procedure. Most intestinal surgeries require that your bowel be completely empty, so you may need to drink water and a laxative solution in the days before the procedure.

What happens during surgery for diverticulitis

On the day of your surgery, wear comfortable clothing and arrive on time. We begin preparing you for surgery and administer general anesthesia so you remain comfortable throughout the procedure.

We regularly perform laparoscopic intestine surgery using the da Vinci® robotic surgery system. With minimally invasive surgery, we can use very small incisions through your abdominal wall to access your colon. 

Our team uses small cameras inserted into the surgical site to view the area with extreme detail. The surgeons guide specialized tools held by robotic arms to perform precise movements that can’t be achieved with traditional surgical methods.

The surgeons then close your incisions and you’re moved to a recovery room to wake up. Each surgical procedure varies, but most diverticulitis surgeries take three or more hours from start to finish.

Recovering from diverticulitis surgery

Even though diverticulitis surgery is minimally invasive, it’s still considered a major surgical procedure. Expect to stay in the hospital for a few days to a week following your procedure.

Our team monitors your health as you recover to ensure that your intestines can process and pass waste properly before you return home. Once you go home, your daily activities may be restricted for several weeks.

At-home care

We give you specific instructions for at-home care. In general, you shouldn’t participate in any strenuous activities for at least two weeks. This includes exercise and sexual intercourse.

You’ll be on a clear liquid-only diet at first, and should add solid foods slowly to give your intestines time to heal. If you have a stoma and colostomy bag, be sure to follow all the care guidelines we give you.

Once your colon heals, you can return to your usual activities. Remember to attend all of your follow-up appointments, and call us immediately if you experience severe abdominal pain, bleeding, or changes in bowel movements.

If you have chronic diverticulitis that hasn’t resolved with conservative care, it could be time to consider surgery. Learn more about minimally invasive intestine surgery by scheduling a consultation at our office in Peoria, Arizona. Contact us online or over the phone today to get started.

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