Objective: The authors determined whether Meckel's diverticulum, discovered incidentally at operation, should be removed. Summary Background Data: It is not clear from the medical literature whether the risk of an incidental Meckel's diverticulectomy is greater than the risk of leaving the diverticulum in place. Methods: The authors used the medical experience of Olmsted County, Minnesota residents for the period 1950 to 1992 to answer the question. Results: During the period, 58 residents developed Meckel's complications that required diverticulectomies. The incidence of complications was 87 per 100,000 person-years, and the lifetime risk (to 80 years of age) of developing them was 6.4%. The risks were similar throughout the period and at all ages of life, but were greater among men (124 per 100,000 person-years) than women (50 per 100,000 person-years, p < 0.05). Diverticulectomies for complications carried an operative mortality and morbidity of 2% and 12% and a cumulative risk of long-term postoperative complications of 7%, whereas incidental diverticulectomies done in 87 residents during the period carried corresponding rates of only 1%, 2%, and 2%, respectively. Conclusions: Meckel's diverticula discovered incidentally at operation should be removed for most patients, regardless of age.
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