Diverticula occur throughout the gut, but by far the most common and most important are those that occur in the colon. The diverticula discussed herein are colonic diverticula. Their importance is frequently misunderstood.

What are diverticula?

diverticulum 2

A gut diverticulum (singular) is an outpouching of the wall of the gut to form a sac. Diverticula (plural) may occur at any level from esophagus to colon. A true diverticulum includes all three layers of the gut; the lining mucosa, the muscularis, and the outer serosa. False diverticula are missing the muscularis and are therefore very thin walled. Colonic diverticula are typically false.

How common are colonic diverticula?

We are all born without colonic diverticula, but many of us acquire them over a lifetime. In Western societies, half the population will have at least one, and usually a few dozen, by age 60.

These small outpouchings are much less common in lifelong vegetarians, and it is commonly thought (but unproven) that a high fiber diet helps prevent diverticula.

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