Medical Definition of Volvulus

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Volvulus: Abnormal twisting of a portion of the gastrointestinal tract, usually the intestine, which can impair blood flow. Volvulus can lead to gangrene and death of the involved segment of the
gastrointestinal tract, intestinal obstruction, perforation of the intestine, and peritonitis. The stomach, small intestine, cecum, and sigmoid colon are all subject to volvulus. Malrotation of the bowel during fetal development can predispose one to a volvulus, which often has a sudden onset. The symptoms and signs of a volvulus may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the stool. The treatment is surgery to free the obstruction and ensure normal blood flow to the bowel. Volvulus is a surgical emergency.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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