(HealthDay News) – Only about 4% of patients with an incidental finding of diverticulosis progress to acute diverticulitis in the long term, according to research published in the December issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Kamyar Shahedi, MD, of the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed data from the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System from January 1996 through January 2011 to measure the long-term risk of acute diverticulitis among patients with diverticulosis discovered incidentally during colonoscopy.

The researchers found that 95 of 2,222 patients with diverticulosis (4.3%) developed diverticulitis during the 11-year follow-up period. Among these patients, 23 (1%) met the rigorous definition of diverticulitis. The median time-to-event for the development of diverticulitis was 7.1 years. For each additional decade of age at the time of diagnosis of diverticulosis, the risk of developing diverticulitis was reduced by 24% (hazard ratio, 0.76).

“These results question the traditional teaching about the rate of progression from incidental diverticulosis to acute diverticulitis,” the authors write. “Moreover, they also suggest that patients who are diagnosed with diverticulosis at a younger age may incur more risk of developing diverticulitis.”

Shire Development funded the study; several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Shire Pharmaceuticals.

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