Volvulus: Causes, Diagnosis, and Options for Treatment

Volvulus Treatment - New York, NY
Posted on 2016/04/12 by Brian Jacob M.D.

About Volvulus

Volvulus refers to a malrotation of part of the intestine, leading to twisting of the lower bowel or colon. This is a potential cause of bowel obstruction. One of the more well-known and most common forms of volvulus is sigmoid colon volvulus, a condition common in Asia and India due to their high-fiber diet, and also common in Peru and Bolivia because of high altitude.

Causes of Volvulus

Volvulus of the colon and lower bowel typically occurs in adults, and may be the result of constipation, redundant intestinal tissue, adhesions (particularly after surgery has been performed), or abnormal intestinal contents. Those who suffer fom inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, run a higher risk of experiencing colonic obstructions, including those caused by volvulus.

If left untreated, volvulus can result in serious health complications, including recurrent volvulus, gangrene, faecal peritonitis, perforation of the bowel, and gangrene.

Types of Volvulus

With regard to colon and rectal issues, common types include:

  • Volvulus of the Cecum (aka Cecal Volvulus) – The cecum is the pouch generally considered the start of the large intestine

  • Volvulus of the Transverse Colon – This is the malrotation of the middle portion of the large intestine

  • Sigmoid Colon Volvulus (aka Sigmoid Volvulus) – This counterclockwise rotation of the colon occurs at the lower portion of the low intestine near the rectum

Signs and Symptoms of Volvulus

Common signs and symptoms of volvulus include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Difficulty passing gas

The symptoms can vary to some degree depending on the type of volvulus a person has. Since serious complications and health problems may occur if the condition is not treated, it's important to seek medical attention if you suffer from severe constipation and experience major abdominal pain.

Diagnosing Volvulus

Diagnosis of volvulus will typically require traditional x-rays and imaging, during which time doctors will look for a telltale "coffee bean" shape or "bent inner tube" shape in the bowel. A barium enema may also be performed in order to enhance the imaging of the potential obstruction. CT scans and ultrasound may also be considered for proper diagnostic imaging.

Treatment of Volvulus

Treatment for volvulus will typically involve attempts to unblock the obstruction and untwist the intestine. If this can be accomplished with surgery, that is always ideal. However, if the obstruction remains and the bowel remains twisted/rotated, surgical treatment may be required.

For most surgical treatments of volvulus, laparotomy is a common option. This involves an incision made in the abdominal region. Another option is laparoscopy, which uses small incisions and small instruments to perform abdominal procedures. In cases of gangrenous volvulus, a proctosigmoidectomy (aka Hartmann's operation) will be performed to resection the lower intestine and colon.

Contact Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York

To learn more about treating serious health and wellness issues through advanced minimally invasive surgery, be sure to contact our advanced laparoscopic surgery center today. The team at Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York will provide you with the necessary information to improve your overall health and wellness.

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