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What is a volvulus? 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.

What are the symptoms and signs?

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention
  • Abdominal tenderness

How is it diagnosed?
Initially patients are seen in the emergency room and the following tests are helpful: abdominal X-rays, barium enema, CT scan and colonoscopy

Why is it an emergency?
When the bowel is twisted, there may be low blood flow to it (ischemia) resulting in gangrene, perforation of the colon, and peritonitis.

How is it treated?
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.

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