Definition

Volvulus, or twisting of the colon, to a degree that obstructs the lumen is a fairly uncommon condition.  It most commonly occurs in the elderly but can at times be seen in young healthy individuals. The distal or sigmoid colon is the most common portion of the colon that can undergo this type of twisting. 

Symptoms

Patients experience the symptoms of a bowel obstruction with pain, abdominal distention and inability to pass either gas or stools. 

Diagnosis & Treatment

A CT scan will often reveal the presence of the volvulus. Volvulus is a true emergency because the bowel can twist to a degree where it can cut off the blood supply to the colon and causes it to perforate. In most cases, expertly inserting a colonoscope and carefully maneuvering the scope can untwist the colon.  Once completed, the patient feels instant relief and the emergency is over.  However, the patient will usually be advised to have that portion of the bowel removed electively in the near future as recurrence of the volvulus is very likely.