Exams and Tests
Your doctor will Reference take a history and do a physical exam if diverticulitis is suspected. Depending on your symptoms, you may have one or more tests to rule out other medical problems that could be causing your symptoms. The extent of testing will depend on how bad your symptoms are and how long they have lasted.
These tests may be done any time you see your doctor about abdominal pain or other symptoms.
- Reference Complete blood count (CBC) may show if you have an infection or if you have too few red blood cells in your blood, possibly because of bleeding in the colon.
- Reference Urinalysis may show you have a urinary tract infection.
- Reference Abdominal X-ray may provide clues about the cause of abdominal pain and other symptoms.
- The Reference digital rectal exam looks for tenderness or a mass in the lower pelvic area.
- The Reference fecal occult blood test looks for blood in your stool.
Tests done as needed
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may want to do one or more of these tests.
- A Reference computed tomography (CT) scan may be done if symptoms suggest you have a pocket of infection (abscess) in your abdomen or that a pouch (diverticulum) has burst. The scan also can reveal other possible causes of your symptoms.
- A Reference barium enema X-ray may be used to show Reference diverticula Opens New Window or other possible causes of your symptoms. But a Reference barium enema Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window X-ray usually is not done while you are having an attack of diverticulitis because of the risk that the barium might spill into the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) if you have a perforation. A material that performs a function similar to barium but that can dissolve in water (water-soluble contrast) may be used instead.
- Reference Flexible sigmoidoscopy and Reference colonoscopy may be used if your main symptom is bleeding from the intestine. These tests also may be done to look for narrow spots or growths in the intestine and to rule out Reference ulcerative colitis Opens New Window or cancer. But sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are not usually done while you are having an attack of diverticulitis because of the risk that the scope could tear the lining of the colon (perforation). If this happens, the infection could spill into the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity). This would cause a more serious infection.
If you are having serious bleeding from the intestine, a condition called diverticular bleeding, your doctor may want to do:
- A Reference technetium-labeled red blood cell bleeding scan, to find the source of bleeding.
- Reference Angiogram (also called arteriogram), to locate the source of bleeding if you are having a large amount of bleeding in your intestine.
See the topic Reference Diverticular Bleeding for more information.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 25, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology