Twisted Bowel


Twisted bowel refers to a condition wherein the shape of the intestine changes. This may be either the small intestine or the large intestine and generally leads to obstruction of the bowel. An irregular twisting of the larger intestine is known as colonic volvulus, while small intestine twisted bowel is known as small bowel volvulus.

Twisted bowel is a rare disorder, but it can lead to serious medical complications and hence its early diagnosis and treatment is absolutely essential. Any delay in getting medical aid for twisted bowel can increase the risk to mortality as well as morbidity. Nearly thirty seven percent of the patients suffering from twisted bowel do not get fully cured and this causes their death.

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Symptoms of Twisted bowel

The symptoms and signs of twisted bowel differ as per the part of bowel that is affected and the severity levels. Mild cases of twisted bowel do not cause any serious health problems. Chronic cases of twisted bowel can result in blockage of blood, oxygen and essential nutrients to the intestinal tract. Such a condition is known as strangulation. Untreated cases of strangulation can cause the death of cells or bowel necrosis.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of twisted bowel are discussed below:

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  • Bowel movement changes: Colonic volvulus usually results in bowel movement changes. A lot of affected individuals may suffer from constipation. Additionally, since twisted bowel leads to blockage of the intestines, diarrhea or watery and loose stools may also occur.
  • Pain: It is one of the most common signs of twisted bowel, with the pain varying within different individuals and being secluded only to the abdominal area. Such pain may also be accompanied by episodes of cramps. Twisted bowel results in restricted channeling of stool and limited flow of blood, which causes sudden and vicious contraction and spasms of the affected muscles. This is what leads to development of cramps.
  • Nausea: A lot of individuals affected by twisted bowel suffer from nausea. The severity of nausea may vary from one affected person to another. Some individuals may experience vomiting along with nausea
  • Abdominal distention: Prolonged periods of twisted bowel can result in inflammation within the abdomen or abdominal distention. This can result from a number of causes, such as inability to pass gas due to the condition, constipation, etc. Abdominal distention may sometimes lead to tenderness of abdominal area.
  • Dehydration: Twisted bowel leads to diarrhea. In such cases of the condition, individuals may experience dehydration with an extreme need to quench their thirst.
  • Fever: Colonic volvulus may occasionally cause fever. The temperature generally tends to be over 99 degrees Fahrenheit, but the severity of fever tends to differ from one affected person to another

Causes of Twisted bowel

  • The causes of twisted bowel are not understood as yet. The popular belief is that at times, the intestine may fold and twist over itself resulting in the condition. The condition may resolve on its own without any need for medical attention.
  • Congenital cases of intestinal malrotation in infants place them at greater vulnerability to develop bowel volvulus as compared to others.
  • Research indicates that twisted bowel has primary as well as secondary causes.
  • Intestinal mobility and diet constitute the primary causes, whereas secondary causes refer to aggravation of the twisted bowel due to current health disorders.
  • Young adults and children are the ones who are usually affected by twisted bowel caused due to the primary causes. Individuals who are over forty years of age and affected by twisted bowel, have secondary causes as the reasons for the condition
  • A majority of twisted bowel cases in pregnant women are caused due to colonic volvulus

Diagnosis of Twisted bowel

  • Some of the tests used to determine and diagnose twisted bowel are analysis of stool, barium enema and imaging studies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI and Computed Tomography or CT.
  • The doctor may also carry out a laparotomy to examine any defects in the abdominal glands and thereby rule out the presence of any other disorders.

Treatment of Twisted bowel

  • Surgical intervention is essential to treat twisted bowel cases.
  • The surgical procedure involves straitening of the bowel so that its appearance is similar to that of a normal bowel. The doctor may sometimes widen the affected region to prevent future instances of the condition.
  • If the condition is really severe and straitening does not resolve the problem, then excision of the affected bowel portion may be necessary.
  • The complications of surgery as well as possible infections that may result from surgery are effectively managed by prescription drugs.

One can prevent future cases of twisted bowel by following the below mentioned steps:

  • Daily exercise can keep the intestinal and abdominal muscles relaxed
  • A healthy diet and adequate consumption of liquids can prevent cases of constipation thereby preventing twisted bowel.
  • Colon cleansing a few times a year also helps
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One Comment

  1. Tracey mcloughlin says:

    My 3years old has been back and forth for 7months with some of these symptoms they have done an ultrasound which shows he has to much gas to see anything he has been to Westmead children hospital they sent him home 4hours later and wonted to give me a script for morgen I refused the drug because I don’t want my 3year old on that can you tell me what to do

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