A new study suggests that diverticulitis became more common in the U.S. from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s.
The findings are from one Minnesota county, but other research indicates that hospitalizations for diverticulitis also increased in the U.S. generally during this period.
According to lead author, Dr. Adil E. Bharucha of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the overall incidence of diverticulitis, with or without hospitalization, increased by 50% since 2000, and more so in younger people.
He and his coauthors used the Rochester Epidemiology Project to study all diagnoses of diverticulitis in Olmsted County, Minnesota, between 1980 and 2007.
In this period, 3,222 people were diagnosed with diverticulitis, 56% of them women, at an average age of 62.
Between 1980 and 1989 the incidence rate was 115 cases per 100,000 people per year, which increased to 188 cases by 2000 to 2007.
The age- and sex-adjusted (to the US white population in the year 2000) incidence rates also increased after the year 2000, reaching a peak of 245 patients per 100,000 in 2007.
While the problem was more common in older people, cases in younger people increased over time, the authors wrote in an article online September 29 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
The 12% complication rate did not change over time, nor did the incidence of surgery.
“Of 386 patients with a complication, 286 had no preceding episodes of diverticulitis,” the authors reported. “Complications were more often related to the index episode than to recurrent diverticulitis.”
Experts do not know why the incidence of diverticulitis has been on the rise, Dr. Bharucha said.
Obesity may partly explain the trend, he said.
“More than one-third of adults are now considered to be obese,” said Dr. Anne Peery, who studies risk factors for diverticular disease at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
“Given these trends, it’s not surprising that the incidence of diverticulitis is rising,” Peery said. She was not part of the new research.
These results are helpful in that they confirm the earlier finding that complications like abscess or perforation are more likely to happen with a first instance of diverticulitis, rather than with recurrent disease, she said.
The Rochester Epidemiology Project is supported by the National Institute on Aging.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1FUR3Ar Am J Gastroenterol 2015.