Which imaging methods are used to confirm the diagnosis of diverticulitis?

Updated: Aug 06, 2019
  • Author: Elie M Ghoulam, MD, MS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Computed tomography (CT) scanning of the abdomen is considered the best imaging method to confirm the diagnosis. Sensitivity and specificity, especially with helical CT and colonic contrast medium, can be as high as 97%. Possible CT scan findings include the following:

  • Pericolic fat stranding due to inflammation

  • Colonic diverticula

  • Bowel wall thickening

  • Soft-tissue inflammatory masses

  • Phlegmon

  • Abscesses

Contrast enema, using water-soluble medium, may be an option in mild-to-moderate uncomplicated cases of diverticulitis.

A plain abdominal radiographic series with supine and upright films can demonstrate bowel obstruction or ileus; the presence of free air can indicate bowel perforation.

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