Lesnar’s Med Scare: ‘I had a hole in my stomach’

Brock Lesnar appeared on ESPN this morning to discuss what he characterized as an astonishing recovery from a condition known as diverticulitis.

Brock Lesnar Dana White

(Dana White, Brock Lesnar this morning on ESPN)

Diverticulitis, which usually afflicts the elderly, involves the weakening of the colon walls and, in extreme cases, can lead to the actual perforation of the colon. Lesnar confirmed during his interview that doctors in South Dakota and at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota told him he had “a hole in my colon” and that he was on the brink of having his colon removed.

But after a recovery that caused him to lose 40 pounds in 11 days, Lesnar claims that his diverticulitis completely disappeared. Lesnar said, “it was a miracle.”

Lesnar said he then subsequently gained 30 pounds and that he’s completely healthy now.

So how did Lesnar get to the point of suffering such an extreme case of Diverticulitis at such a young age?

Apparently because some people had linked Lesnar’s extraordinary affliction to steroid use, MMAJunkie.com “medical columnist” and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Johnny Benjamin addressed Lesnar’s situation on January 6:

I could find absolutely no credible, peer-reviewed medical literature that drew a correlation between anabolic-steroid use and diverticulitis.

Therefore, the Internet pundits and unlicensed medical experts who continue to state, imply and/or insinuate that Brock Lesnar’s serious GI condition is related to past or ongoing anabolic steroid use are both reckless and stating unsubstantiated information as fact. 

Though not qualified as “anabolic steroids,” there are indeed examples of  “peer-reviewed medical literature” citing the connection between steroids and and diverticulitis.

In October, 2005, several Doctors from the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine noted in the following report:

Much of our knowledge and treatment of complicated diverticulitis (CD) are based on outdated literature reporting mortality rates of 10%. … Mean age of patients was 65 years. … Three hundred thirty-seven patients hospitalized for CD were retrospectively analyzed.

A total of 89.5% of the perforation patients who died had no history (prior cases) of diverticulitis. Steroid use was significantly associated with perforation rates as well as mortality.

Lesnar said this morning that doctors told him that as a result of his case of diverticulitis, he had a perforated colon.

Holly Salzman, M.D., and Dustin Lillie, M.D. of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine reported in their article Diverticular Disease in 2005: Diagnosis and Treatment:

Steroids also may mask symptoms [of diverticulitis] and delay appropriate therapy.

Lesnar said in the ESPN interview that he was initially misdiagnosed as having mononucleosis by doctors in Canada the U.S..

I’m certainly not claiming that steroid use by Lesnar led to his extreme case of diverticulitis. One might also attribute his “miracle” recovery to the fact that Lesnar was incredibly young to have an ailment that usually affects the elderly.

Obviously there’s been some conjecture about the link between steroids and Lesnar’s medical condition so I thought it was important to contribute additional information to the discussion.