DOCTORS waged a desperate battle to save rocker EDDIE VAN HALEN during life-or-death emergency surgery after his intestines “exploded,” thanks to a fad diet, sources told The ENQUIRER exclusively.

The 57-year-old guitarist was clinging to life when he was rushed to the hospi­tal in excruciating pain after swallowing a cayenne-based diet concoction, re­vealed an insider.

Eddie’s wife Janie Liszewski, his son Wolf, 21, and ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli all feared the worst.

“Janie was beside him the whole time and Wolf kept a constant vigil,” said a source. “They were sick with worry be­cause he was in so much pain.

“It really was touch and go. Valer­ie was scared to death Eddie was going to die. Although he’s remarried, Eddie is still close to Valerie, and she was there for him the whole time.”

The recent crisis was triggered when the rocker tried the Master Cleanse Diet, according to sources.

“Eddie is by no means fat, but he used the Master Cleanse because it’s supposed to get rid of tox­ins in the body,” said the source.

At the time, he was suf­fering from diverticulitis, an inflammation of pouches that form in the colon wall.

“Eddie’s ab­dominal region was a disaster area,” disclosed a pal. “The spicy treatment touched off an explosion in his intestines.”

The intestinal emergency comes on top of the longtime smoker’s ongoing battle with tongue cancer.

“To go through this as well was almost too much for him to take,” divulged his pal.

“His brother Alex and (original band mate) David Lee Roth were scared for Eddie too. Everyone’s just so relieved he made it through, and the worst appears to be over.”

Medical experts explained how Ed­die’s controversial diet treatment could have backfired and thrust him into the terrifying ordeal.

“Sometimes the stress of fad diets in­creases pressure on the colon, and if the person has diverticulitis there may be leakage from the bowel into the abdo­men,” said Dr. James O’Brien.

To the patient it can feel like “an explo­sion,” added the expert, medical director of quality and patient safety at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

When that happens, it can be deadly, noted Dr. Steven Lamm of the New York University School of Medicine and au­thor of “No Guts, No Glory.”

“Just as you can die from a ruptured appendix, you can die from a ruptured co­lon,” the internist told The ENQUIRER.

But Eddie dodged that bullet. His camp says he is expected to make a full recovery within four to six months and that his Van Halen band should be back on the road in 2013.

The Master Cleanse Diet he apparently tried was popularized de­cades ago. It’s a regimen that temporarily replaces food with a liquid consisting of wa­ter, fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cay­enne pepper.

Tara Gidus, team di­etitian for the Orlando Magic basketball team, blasted the preparation.

“It has little fiber, which can cause constipation, and that can cause block­ages that require surgery.”

Fortunately for Eddie, his people say: “No further surgeries are needed.”