Diverticular disease epidemiology: acute hospitalisations are growing fastest in young men
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Older age has long been linked to risk of diverticulitis, but the epidemiology is seldom described for a national population. The aim of this study was to investigate age- and gender differences in incidence, temporal trends, lifetime risk and prevalence related to acute diverticulitis hospitalisations in New Zealand.
Records of all hospitalisations with diverticulitis the primary diagnosis were obtained from the Ministry of Health for the period 2000–2015. The first acute diverticulitis admission recorded for an individual was taken as an incident event; all others were classified as recurrent. Trends in age- and sex-specific and age-standardised incidence rates are described, and lifetime risk and prevalence estimated.
Over the 16 years from 2000 to 2015, 37,234 acute hospitalisations for diverticulitis were recorded in 28,329 people aged 30 + years (median = 66 years). Rates of incident hospitalisations rose with age, from 5/10,000 person-years at age 50–54 years to 19/10,000py by age 80–84 years. Rates for women were lower than men before age 55 years, but higher thereafter. Age-standardised rates rose 0.2/10,000py annually, but approximately doubled among men aged < 50 years. Lifetime risk was estimated at over 5%, with the prevalence pool rising to over 1.5% of the population aged 30+ in 2030.
Rapid increases in diverticulitis admissions among young men since 2000 correspond with increases reported elsewhere but remain unexplained; notably young women follow similar trends 5–10 years later. Increasing incidence, combined with population ageing, adds urgency to explain diverticular formation, to understand factors that trigger or provoke their inflammation/infection, and to clarify treatment and (self-)management pathways.
KeywordsDiverticulitis Diverticulum Colon Epidemiology Sex factors Age factors
We gratefully acknowledge two University of Auckland Summer Studentships which supported this work, one funded by the HOPE Foundation, a charitable organisation supporting research into the health of older people in New Zealand. A University of Auckland internal research grant provided salary support for statistical analyses. Early discussions with Dr Steven Burmeister and Mr Matthew Soop were much appreciated.
This work was Funded by Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland (Grant No. 3709593).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee gave ethical approval (Ref. 8944).
The Ethics Committee determined that no informed consent was required for this study.
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