Cecal diverticulitis symptoms

Updated March 21, 2017

Cecal diverticulitis is a painful intestinal condition that happens when a weak section of the caecum forms a little pocket that becomes infected. The abdominal pain can be severe, and the patient may need to be treated with antibiotics or even surgery. There is even a risk for patients with cecal diverticulitis to suffer complications like a blocked colon.


Cecal diverticulitis is an infection in a diverticula that formed in the caecum, which is the part of the large intestine that is the closest to the small intestine. Any undigested food passes from the small intestine into the caecum through Bauhin's valve. In the caecum, salts and fluids are absorbed into the body.


Whenever a weak area in the wall of the digestive track becomes stressed, the area can bulge out and form a little pouch-like pocket called a diverticula. Individuals over 40 years old commonly have diverticula, especially if they have diets that do not have enough fibre. If a diverticula becomes torn or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis.


Cecal dicerticulitis causes severe pain in the lower left side of a person's abdomen. The pain can be sudden and severe, or it can increase over time from a mild discomfort. Sometimes the abdomen is tender if touched or when the person bends over or wears a belt. Cecal diverticulitis can also cause fever, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, bleeding from the rectum or pain, along with frequent urination.


Cecal diverticulitis is often mistaken for appendicitis. It can be as serious. Severe cases of cecal diverticulitis can result in a rupture of the infected diverticula, which can cause peritonitus, bleeding, a blocked colon or a fistula. Mild cases are treated with liquids, a low-fibre diet, rest and oral antibiotics. People who have more severe cases of cecal diverticulitis have to be hospitalised, and they receive intravenous antibiotics or surgery.

Expert Insight

The Mayo Clinic estimates that half of all Americans over the age of 60 have diverticulas in their intestinal tracks. Cecal diverticulas are most common in Asian adults. Usually these protrusions are harmless. Unless they become infected, no one screens for them or treats them. However, they are commonly discovered when a person goes for a routine colorectal cancer screening.

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About the Author

Lesley Barker, director of the Bolduc House Museum, authored the books "St. Louis Gateway Rail—The 1970s," published by Arcadia, and the "Eye Can Too! Read" series of vision-related e-books. Her articles have appeared in print and online since the 1980s. Barker holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Washington University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University.