Only a medical doctor can confirm a diagnosis of diverticulitis. In addition to investigating a person’s medical history, family history, risk factors, and signs and symptoms, a doctor may also run a variety of tests to help confirm a diagnosis and rule out other conditions. These tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Stool tests
- Imaging tests
- Pelvic exam
In addition to performing any or some of the above tests, a doctor will likely perform a physical examination. This examination can include a digital rectum exam, which allows the doctor to feel for masses, pain, bleeding, and other abnormalities in the rectum.
These tests check for cells and substances (called biomarkers) that can indicate the levels of inflammation the body, anemia (low red blood cells, which can occur because of bleeding), or problems with certain organs, such as the kidney and liver.
Also known as a urine analysis (UA), urine tests check for infections in the urinary tract.
A doctor may take a sample of a person’s stool in order to check for infection or for the presence of blood (called a fecal occult blood test).
Imaging tests are useful for seeing a person’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract and other nearby structures without having to perform invasive procedures like surgery. Common imaging techniques that help confirm a diagnosis of diverticulitis include ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, or X-rays of the abdomen and pelvis.
A colonoscopy involves the insertion of a tiny camera attached to the end of a long flexible tube through a person’s rectum and into their lower intestine; it allows a doctor to see inside the colon and look for diverticula. Colonoscopies can screen for and diagnose other conditions like colon cancer.
A pelvic exam may be used to assess for and rule out gynecological problems in women who are presenting with signs and symptoms of diverticulitis. A doctor may also run a pregnancy test in sexually active cisgender women of child-bearing age in order to rule out pregnancy.