A volvulus is when the colon develops a twist or kink in it secondary to a rotation which causes
obstruction of the intestine. Other causes of intestinal obstruction include tumors,
diverticulitis and radiation-induced.
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal distention
- Abdominal tenderness
Initially patients are seen in the emergency room and the following tests are helpful:
abdominal X-rays, barium enema, CT scan and colonoscopy
When the bowel is twisted, there may be low blood flow to it (ischemia) resulting in gangrene,
perforation of the colon, and peritonitis.
Patients diagnosed early may undergo untwisting of the volvulus by a colonoscopy. Because a
volvulus has a high recurrence rate, surgery is recommended usually in the same hospitalization
after the volvulus is "untwisted" or detorted. In these cases, surgery (after detorsion of the
volvulus) may be performed laparoscopically. For those patients diagnosed late into the course
of a volvulus, immediate surgery is indicated.