Volvulus-Child

A volvulus occurs when part of the large intestine is twisted on itself and the mesentery. The mesentery is a supportive tissue that anchors the intestines to the back wall of the abdomen. The twisted intestine creates a bowel obstruction that cuts off the blood supply and affects bowel function. A volvulus requires immediate medical attention.

  • Causes

    It is not known what causes the twisting to happen. Rarely, this may lead to bowel obstruction.

  • Definition

    A volvulus occurs when part of the large intestine is twisted on itself and the mesentery. The mesentery is a supportive tissue that anchors the intestines to the back wall of the abdomen. The twisted intestine creates a bowel obstruction that cuts off the blood supply and affects bowel function.

    A volvulus requires immediate medical attention.

  • Diagnosis

    Your child’s doctor will ask you about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your child’s doctor may recommend:

    • Blood tests for electrolytes
    • Hematest to check for hidden blood in the stool

    Imaging tests will be needed to see your child’s internal structures. Tests include:

    • Abdominal x-ray
    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Lower GI series with barium enema
    • Upper GI series with barium swallow

  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent volvulus.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your child’s chance of volvulus include:

    • Congenital defects including:
      • Elongated or enlarged colon
      • Congenital intestinal malrotation
      • Sigmoid colon unattached to abdominal wall
      • Narrow mesenteric connection to the colon
    • Irregular bowel habits
    • Chronic constipation
    • High fiber diet
    • Previous volvulus
    • Hirschsprung disease

  • Symptoms

    In some cases, your child may not have symptoms. In those that have them, symptoms may include:

    • Green or yellow vomit
    • Abdominal pain and swelling
    • Rapid breathing and heart rate
    • Bloody stools
    • Dehydration

  • Treatment

    The treatment goal is to unblock the obstruction and restore bowel function. Treatment may include: