Diagnosis of diverticulitis is done through medical history, a physical exam, and possibly a diagnostic test as well.
The intestinal pouches which can lead to diverticulitis may be found during tests for another illness or condition, as there are often no symptoms when the pouches are not infected or inflamed.
Your doctor will probably ask you about you bowel symptoms and habits, as well as any other stomach symptoms or pain you are experiencing. They may also ask you about your diet.
A physical exam may include a rectal exam, where the doctor inserts a finger into your rectum to check for any spots of tenderness, obstruction or blood.
Your bowel movements may be examined through a stool sample so that the doctor can look for bleeding, and you may be given a blood test to check for signs of infection.
Other tests which may help with a diagnosis include:
- an x-ray, which can show whether a pouch has been ruptured
- a CT scan (short for computed tomography) or ultrasound scan, which can show where the pouch is along the colon and how big it is.
Further tests may be used once the inflammation has reduced. These can include:
- a barium enema, where fluid is inserted into the rectum. The fluid then shows up on an x-ray and can help the doctor find abnormal areas in the colon
- a flexible sigmoidoscopy, where a small tube with a light in it is placed into the rectum and colon, letting the doctor examine the colon.
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