A volvulus occurs when any part of the gut 'twists' on itself. This usually has two potentially disastrous consequences:
A volvulus usually occurs in the presence of an anatomic defect that renders the organ more susceptible to twisting. Any part of the GIT can be affected, but the sigmoid colon is by far the most common site involved.
Different parts of the gastrointestinal tract may be affected by a volvulus:
What are the related symptoms of volvulus?
Signs and symptoms of volvulus usually occur suddenly and can be severe. The symptoms may include:
How is a volvulus treated?
Volvulus treatment depends entirely on whether the affected organ is still viable. If the organ is viable, it can be 'untwisted' and the underlying anatomical defect can be fixed to prevent future re-occurrence. Once necrosis has occurred, the patient may be toxically ill and very unstable. Surgery in this scenario is potentially lifesaving. During the surgery, Dr Cooper will resect the compromised part of the gut and perform a stoma (colon / small bowel opening onto the skin). Restoration of continuity (closure of the stoma) is left for a later date if the patient survives.