Diverticulitis surgical treatment outcome in older Medicare beneficiaries shows racial disparities: Study

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Colon And Digestive | Monday, August 15, 2016 - 12:00 PM

Diverticulitis surgical treatment Diverticulitis surgical treatment outcomes in older Medicare beneficiaries shows racial disparities, according to research findings. The objective of the study was to examine disparities in treatment types and mortality in patients insured through Medicare with surgically treated diverticulitis.

The study was a retrospective analysis of Medicare Provider Analysis and Review of inpatient data. The patients were 2,283 blacks and 49,937 whites over the age of 65 who underwent surgical treatment for diverticulitis.

The researchers found that blacks were more likely to have other comorbidities, compared to whites. In fact, after adjusting for age, sex, and medical comorbidity, blacks were found to have a 26 percent higher risk of urgent or emergency admission and were associated with a 28 percent higher mortality risk.

The study concluded that blacks with diverticulitis underwent urgent or emergency treatment more often, compared to whites. They also had greater mortality rates. The findings demonstrate racial disparities and worsened health outcomes for blacks.

Diverticulitis accounts for nearly 300,000 hospitalizations annually, with an estimated cost to the healthcare system amounting to $2.4 billion. Diverticulitis is a common condition, especially among the elderly, and although the treatment is straightforward, those with complicated diverticulitis undergoing emergency surgery may experience poor outcomes.

Best treatment for diverticulitis

Medical treatment options for diverticulitis include antibiotics to treat infection, liquid diet to allow bowels to heal, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In complicated cases of diverticulitis, surgery may be required, such as primary bowel resection, where the affected part of the intestine is removed and the rest of it is reconnected. Another option is bowel resection with colostomy if it is impossible to reconnect the colon to the rectum due to inflammation.

If diverticulitis is causing pain, there are home remedies you can try for relief. You can apply heat to the abdomen to reduce muscle cramping caused by diverticulitis. Meditation, too, may be helpful for pain management. If you need a pain reliever, stay away from ibuprofen (Advil) and instead reach for acetaminophen (Tylenol).

There are also some preventative measures you can try to lower your risk of developing diverticulitis.

Regular exercise, in particular, is beneficial for preventing diverticulitis because it helps keep bowels regular and reduce pressure on the colon. Added pressure on the colon can result in the formation of diverticula.

Fiber, too, is essential for bowel regularity. And in this vein, staying hydrated helps. Although fiber can help you stay regular, without enough fluids it can have the opposite effect. Staying hydrated improves bodily functions, so it’s important to drink enough water.

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