Constipation is common especially for people with low fiber diet and chronic constipation is high with 1 out of 6 Americans suffering from the condition. Although the medical condition can be alleviated with diet modification, frequent constipation may result to diverticula or pockets forming in the lower part of the large intestine (sigmoid colon) due to the straining action during bowel movement.

Diverticula in the Sigmoid Colon

Although diverticula or pouches can form in any part of the digestive tract, it occurs most often in the sigmoid colon or the narrowest part of the large intestine. The sigmoid colon attaches the intestine to the rectum and like other parts of the intestine, absorbs water and vitamins and breaks it down so it can travel easily throughout the body. The sigmoid also holds and controls the expulsion of the feces during defecation.

As the pouches often develop in areas that are weakest, the strain from the bowel movement and pressure weakens the walls, which is why diverticulitis is common in this area. As the colon contains the body's waste, perforation or tearing of the diverticula in the sigmoid colon is serious as contents can spill to the abdominal cavity leading to infection of the abdominal wall and other parts of the body and this can be life threatening.


Infections in the pouches located in the sigmoid colon can lead to abscess, which is a complication where the pouches become swollen and pus-filled. Repeated flare-ups can also result to the scarring of the area resulting to the narrowing and blockage of the area.

Diagnosis and Treatment

One of the important roles of the sigmoid colon is that it is used to screen for the possibility of colon cancer. A procedure called as "sigmoidoscopy" is performed where an endoscope is inserted in the anus and rectum to observe the sigmoid colon's mucosa. Polyps or growths in the area is removed and examined for abnormal cells.

Patients diagnosed with colon cancer will have sigmoid colectomy, which is a procedure where part of the left side of the colon is removed. The procedure is done through laparoscopic or open procedure. During operation, the diseased area is removed and the healthy parts are joined together. It is rare where surgeons have to perform formation of stoma unless a special circumstance that requires it. That said, the surgeon would discuss this with the patient before the surgery.

There are risks involved including the patient's health condition especially those with heart and lung conditions and other coexisting conditions. Anti-blood clot medication is provided during hospital admission and as wound infection can occur, patients may be prescribed with antibiotics for treatment.

Source by Patrick Laurence