PURPOSE: The purpose of our study was to determine the clinical and CT predictors of recurrent disease after a first episode of diverticulitis that was successfully managed nonoperatively.
METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 954 consecutive patients who presented to our institution with diverticulitis from 2002 to 2008. Patients were identified with International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision/Current Procedural Terminology codes. Patients were excluded if they had subsequent colectomy based on the first attack (n = 81), or if the attack they had between 2002 and 2008 was not their first attack (n = 201). We evaluated CT variables chosen by a panel of expert gastrointestinal radiologists. These radiologists reviewed the available published literature for CT imaging characteristics thought to predict diverticulitis severity. CT variables (n = 20) were determined by prospective reevaluation of scans by blinded study radiologists. Clinical variables (n = 43) were coded based on a retrospective chart review. Univariate analysis of variables in relation to recurrent disease was performed by a log-rank test of Kaplan-Meier estimates. Multivariate analysis was performed using Cox proportional hazards modeling. Variables with P < .2 on univariate analysis were included in a stepwise selection algorithm.
RESULTS: The study population included 672 patients; mean age, 61 ± 15 years; mean follow-up, 42.8 ± 24 months. The index presentation of diverticulitis was most commonly located in the sigmoid colon (72%), followed by descending colon (33%), right colon (5%), and transverse colon (3%). Overall recurrence at 5 years was 36% by (95% CI 31.4%–40.6%) Kaplan-Meier estimate. Complicated recurrence (fistula, abscess, free perforation) occurred in 3.9% (95% CI 2.2%–5.6%) of patients at 5 years by Kaplan-Meier estimate. Family history of diverticulitis (HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.4–3.2), length of involved colon >5 cm (HR 1.7, 95% CI 1.3–2.3), and retroperitoneal abscess (HR 4.5, 95% CI 1.1–18.4) were associated with diverticulitis recurrence. Right colon disease (HR 0.27, 95% CI 0.09–0.86) was associated with freedom from recurrence.
CONCLUSION: Although diverticulitis recurrence is common following an initial attack that has been managed medically, complicated recurrence is uncommon. Patients who present with a family history of diverticulitis, long segment of involved colon, and/or retroperitoneal abscess are at higher risk for recurrent disease. Patients who present with right-sided diverticulitis are at low risk for recurrent disease. These findings should be taken into consideration when counseling patients regarding the potential benefits of prophylactic colectomy.