Abdominal pain is a common ailment that just about everyone will experience at least once in his or her lifetime. Pain in the left lower side of the abdomen is referred to as left lower quadrant (LLQ) pain. It can arise in the digestive tract, skin, abdominal wall muscles, urinary tract, blood vessels, or male and female reproductive organs. Important clues in the diagnosis of LLQ pain would be the characteristics of the pain and any accompanying signs or symptoms.
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Diverticulitis is the most common cause of LLQ pain. It represents inflammation and infection of one or more diverticula, small pouches in the large intestine (colon). Diverticula represent weak spots in the wall of the large intestine. Most diverticula occur in the sigmoid colon. Diverticulosis, or the abnormal development of diverticula in the colon, is a common condition in middle aged and older adults. As a result, diverticulitis is generally considered a disease of the elderly.
Accompanying signs and symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence (excessive gas), or fever. Computed tomography (CT) scanning of the abdomen is considered the best imaging study to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment of diverticulitis includes being made NPO (nothing by mouth), antibiotic therapy, and advancing the diet as tolerated. Complications of diverticulitis may include fistulas (abnormal connections between organs), abscess, intestinal obstruction, peritonitis, and sepsis (an overwhelming response to a life-threatening infection).