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Volvulus: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What Is Volvulus?

Volvulus is a medical condition in which a segment of the gastrointestinal tract, generally the intestine, gets twisted abnormally thus blocking adequate blood flow to the area resulting at times in formation of gangrene or necrosis of the twisted portion of the intestine. Volvulus is an emergent medical condition and requires medical attention immediately. Volvulus can develop in any part of the gastrointestinal tract including stomach, small intestine, cecum, and sigmoid colon. If there is malrotation at the time of fetal development then it can make that baby vulnerable to having Volvulus. Volvulus causes pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and blood in stools. The main treatment for Volvulus is surgical repair so as to untwist the affected portion and replace it back into the abdomen.

What Is Volvulus?

What Are The Causes Of Volvulus?

Volvulus usually develops due to a defect called as intestinal malrotation, which is usually present in newborns and is diagnosed within the first week of life itself.

What Are The Symptoms Of Volvulus?

Some of the symptoms of Volvulus are:

  • Dark tarry stools
  • Severe constipation 
  • Abdominal distention
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Shock

The symptoms of Volvulus are so severe that parents take the child to the emergency room immediately which is critical in successful treatment of Volvulus.

How Is Volvulus Diagnosed?

The following tests are conducted for diagnosis of Volvulus

  • X-ray of Abdomen: This may be done to look for intestinal obstruction
  • X-rays Utilizing Barium Enema: Barium is inserted in the intestine through anus and x-rays are taken which will show the obstruction clearly due to the barium 
  • CT Scan Of Abdomen: This is performed to look for obstruction in the intestines.

What Are Treatments For Volvulus?

Emergent surgical intervention is the treatment for Volvulus. The surgical procedure involves making an incision in the abdomen, untwisting the affected region, and replacing it back in the abdomen making sure that the blood supply to the portion is restored. If there is some portion of the intestine which becomes necrotic then that segment of the intestine is removed. In case if there is a very large portion of the intestine which gets damaged then a procedure called as colostomy is performed in which the bowel is collected outside utilizing a bag called as colostomy bag.

The overall prognosis of Volvulus is quite good provided treatment is done emergently. In case if the bowel becomes completely necrotic, then the prognosis becomes severely guarded. Some of the possible complications of Volvulus are development of peritonitis or a medical condition called as short bowel syndrome.


  1. Abouelenin, K. M., Elgeidie, A. A., & Hasan, A. M. (2018). Acute Intestinal Obstruction Due to Midgut Volvulus in Adults. The Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine, 73(2), 6914-6918. Link

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 29, 2023

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