Because diverticulosis does not usually cause symptoms, the condition is often discovered incidentally during an examination or screening for another condition. Diverticula may be identified during a lower GI series, a colonoscopy, or a CT scan. Upper GI studies may also be done to reveal diverticula.
Lower GI Series
Lower gastrointestinal, or GI, series is also called barium enema. Barium is passed through the anus to coat the rectum and colon, and a series of x-rays are taken. The x-ray image shows the outline of the colon and can identify if diverticula or other growths are present.
Colonoscopy is a procedure in which a provider passes a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end through the anus to look inside the rectum and the entire colon. Tissue samples can also be taken during a colonoscopy.
A computed tomography, or CT, scan uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to create images of internal organs. A special dye, called contrast medium, may be injected to make structures inside the body easier to see.
Upper GI Endoscopy
An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end that can be passed through the mouth to allow the provider to look for evidence of diverticula in the inner lining of the upper GI tract. Biopsies can also be taken during this procedure to sample tissue for testing and diagnosis.
CT enterography uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to evaluate the small intestine. This imaging test allows the provider to see the lumen and mucosal surface of the small intestine to look for evidence of diverticula.
Upper GI Series (Barium Swallow)
This procedure uses x-rays and barium to view the upper GI tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The barium, which is swallowed, makes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum more visible on the x-rays.
Upper GI Series with Small Bowel Follow-Through X-ray
A small bowel follow-through x-ray requires additional time as compared with a traditional upper GI series in order for the barium to reach the small intestine.