PURPOSE: This study was designed to review the results of laparoscopic lavage for the management of perforated sigmoid diverticulitis. METHODS: A 10-year retrospective review was conducted of 78 consecutive cases of sigmoid diverticulitis warranting emergency surgical intervention (1999-2008). RESULTS: Hinchey grades were I (12 patients), II (31 patients), III (29 patients), and IV (6 patients). The patients' mean age was 72 years. Procedures performed were laparoscopic washout (35), Hartmann procedure (31), percutaneous drainage of abscess (4), and resection and primary anastomosis (8). Overall mortality was 5 of 78 (7%); all of these patients were in the Hartmann group. Washout was successful in 27 of 35 cases, meaning recovery from the initial episode of peritonitis without resection. The short-term failures of washout in 8 patients were because of perforated cancer (1), fecal fistula formation (2), and inadequate washout and ongoing sepsis (5). In long-term follow-up, 8 patients in the washout group developed symptoms of recurrent complicated diverticulitis, including painful phlegmon (3), stricture (1), fistulas (3), and repeat perforation (1); all 8 patients underwent delayed resection. Eight patients underwent early planned resection without experiencing further symptoms. Eleven patients were observed without further symptoms with a mean follow-up of 20 months (range, 6-60 mo). CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic washout is an emerging technique that is particularly applicable to the management of Hinchey III perforated peritonitis. Short- and long-term problems exist with the technique that may be overcome with further improvement in technique and case selection. Resection and radiological drainage remain widely used in managing perforated sigmoid diverticulitis.