Intestinal torsion (Intestinal volvulus): What is it, symptoms and treatment
Intestinal volvulus is also called intestinal torsion or volvulus, is a serious problem that causes an intestinal occlusion due to torsion of a part of the intestine, causing obstruction and preventing the step of the heces and the blood flow in the region, which can cause the death of tissue in the affected region.
This alteration can occur in any part of the intestine, even if it is more common in the final part of the large intestine, and can cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, stress and abdominal distension.
Volvulus appears mainly in children and old people, due to congenital alterations in the form of the intestine, intestinal tumors, adhesions caused after a surgery or inflammation. If you are suspicious of this problem, you must immediately go to the hospital emergency to carry out tests that can identify the problem to start the treatment, in which the general the doctor decides to perform a surgery.
The main symptoms of intestinal volvulus are related to the obstruction that causes in the intestine, these are:
- Colic-like abdominal pain;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Inability to eliminate heces or gases;
- Abdominal distention;
The intensity and number of the symptoms present will depend on the region where the torsion occurs and the size of the affected region, causing an intense abdominal inflammation that gets worse with the time and, in case it is not treated and identified in the time , you can put in risk the life of the person.
What can cause the torsion
It is not always possible to identify the cause of the problem, however, the most common are:
- Genetic alterations in the form of the intestine;
- Intestinal adhesions caused by abdominal surgery or infection;
- Tumor in the intestine or something that causes obstruction and rotation in the intestine;
- Chronic stress.
In addition to this, people who suffer from changes in intestinal transit present a greater risk of developing this disease. Therefore, some ways to prevent torsion from appearing are to increase water consumption to 2 liters a day, maintain a healthy diet and perform regular physical activity, which is the way to maintain a regular bowel habit.
How to confirm the diagnosis
Intestinal volvulus can be confirmed through a medical evaluation together with the performance of some exams such as abdominal radiography or computerized tomography of the abdomen.
In addition to this, the doctor can also ask for an opaque enema, which is a specific exam that uses contrast to observe the entire intestinal tract and identify possible problems in the intestinal tract, as in these cases.
How is the treatment performed?
When an intestinal torsion occurs, it is a medical emergency, it should be treated as soon as possible at the hospital. The most used treatment is a surgical procedure called decompressive colonoscopy, which is capable of removing the torsion and allowing the blood to return to normal.
However, in the most serious cases in which the torsion is difficult to remove, the intestine has suffered a heart attack due to lack of blood supply, the doctor may choose to perform a classic surgery with an abdominal cut to remove part of the organ that is ischemic.
In these cases, if the portion that was extracted was very large, it may be necessary to perform a colostomy, which consists of connecting the intestine with the abdominal wall to allow the exit of the heces. Learn more about colostomy care.
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