Uncomplicated colonic diverticulitis is common. There is no consensus regarding the most appropriate management. Some authors have reported the efficacy and safety of observational management, and others have argued for a more aggressive approach with oral or intravenous antibiotic treatment.
The purpose of this study was to perform an updated meta-analysis of the different management strategies for uncomplicated diverticulitis with 2 separate meta-analyses.
MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane databases were used.
All randomized clinical trials, prospective, and retrospective comparative studies were included.
Observational and antibiotics treatment or oral and intravenous antibiotics treatment were included.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Successful management (emergency management, recurrence, elective management) was measured.
After review of 293 identified records, 11 studies fit inclusion criteria: 7 studies compared observational management and antibiotics treatment (2321 patients), and 4 studies compared oral and intravenous antibiotics treatment (355 patients). There was no significant difference between observational management and antibiotics treatment in terms of emergency surgery (0.7% vs 1.4%; p = 0.1) and recurrence (11% vs 12%; p = 0.3). In this part, considering only randomized trials, elective surgery during the follow-up occurred more frequently in the observational group than the antibiotic group (2.5% vs 0.9%; p = 0.04). The second meta-analysis showed that failure and recurrence rates were similar between oral and intravenous antibiotics treatment (6% vs 7% (p = 0.6) and 8% vs 9% (p = 0.8)).
Inclusion of nonrandomized studies, identification of high risks of bias (selection, performance, and detection bias), and presence of heterogeneity between the studies limited this work.
Observational management was not statistically different from antibiotic treatment for the primary outcome of needing to undergo surgery. However, in patients being treated by antibiotics, our studies demonstrated that oral administration was similar to intravenous administration and provided lower costs. Although it may be difficult for physicians to do, there is mounting evidence that not treating uncomplicated colonic diverticulitis with antibiotics is a viable treatment alternative.