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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 K56.2
ICD-9 537.3, 560.2
DiseasesDB 13996
eMedicine ped/2415
MeSH D045822

A volvulus is a bowel obstruction[1] in which a loop of bowel has abnormally twisted on itself.[2]



  • Volvulus Neonatorum
  • Volvulus Small Intestine
  • Volvulus Caecum
  • Volvulus Sigmoid Colon


Midgut volvulus occurs in patients (usually in infants) that are predisposed because of congenital intestinal malrotation. Segmental volvulus occurs in patients of any age, usually with a predisposition because of abnormal intestinal contents (e.g. meconium ileus) or adhesions. Volvulus of the cecum, transverse colon, or sigmoid colon occurs, usually in adults, with only minor predisposing factors such as redundant (excess, inadequately supported) intestinal tissue and constipation.


Regardless of cause, volvulus causes symptoms by two mechanisms.

  • One is bowel obstruction, manifested as abdominal distension and vomiting.
  • The other is ischemia (loss of blood flow) to the affected portion of intestine.

Volvulus causes severe pain and progressive injury to the intestinal wall, with accumulation of gas and fluid in the portion of the bowel obstructed.[2] Ultimately, this can result in necrosis of the affected intestinal wall, acidosis, and death. Acute volvulus therefore requires immediate surgical intervention to untwist the affected segment of bowel and possibly resect any unsalvageable portion.[2]

Volvulus occurs most frequently in middle-aged and elderly men.[2] Volvulus can also arise as a rare complication in persons with redundant colon, a normal anatomic variation resulting in extra colonic loops.[3]

Sigmoid volvulus is the most-common form of volvulus of the gastrointestinal tract[4] and is responsible for 8% of all intestinal obstructions. Sigmoid volvulus is particularly common in elderly persons and constipated patients. Patients experience abdominal pain, distension, and absolute constipation.

Associated conditions

The volvulus can also occur in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy due to the smooth muscle dysfunction.



  • Laparotomy
  • Untwisting
  • Transduodenal band of ladd is divided

See also

Gastric volvulus


  1. ^ volvulus at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ a b c d Wedding, Mary Ellen; Gylys, Barbara A. (2004). Medical Terminology Systems: A Body Systems Approach (Medical Terminology (W/CD & CD-ROM) (Davis)). Philadelphia, Pa: F. A. Davis Company. ISBN 0-8036-1249-4.  
  3. ^ Mayo Clinic Staff (2006-10-13). "Redundant colon: A health concern?". Ask a Digestive System Specialist. Retrieved 2007-06-11.  
  4. ^ Turan M, Sen M, Karadayi K, et al. (January 2004). "Our sigmoid colon volvulus experience and benefits of colonoscope in detortion process". Rev Esp Enferm Dig 96 (1): 32–5. PMID 14971995.  


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