Dr. Denis Burkitt, a well-known Irish missionary surgeon made an interesting observation of America. His comment was this: “America is a constipated nation. . . . If you pass small stools, you have to have large hospitals.”1 Burkitt’s fascination with man’s evacuation habits began when he traveled to Uganda in the 1960s. The diet and fecal matter of the population intrigued him. As a result of his observations he hypothesized that a diet high in fiber was largely responsible for the absence of diverticulosis in Uganda.
Diverticulosis is a condition in which outpouching sacs form in the weak areas of the colon’s muscular wall. It is thought that weakened areas of muscle, combined with pressure, allow these sacs, or diverticula, to outwardly protrude. When diverticula become inflamed, irritated, swollen, and infected, it is diagnosed as diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can occur with pain, fever, abscesses, constipation, and in the worst-case scenario, rupture of the intestinal wall. Diverticular bleeding can also occur when small blood vessels within the wall of diverticula burst. This can manifest as blood in the stool.
Diverticulosis has been referred to as a …
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