A volvulus is a malrotation or twisting of the bowel or intestine and can be caused by an abnormality in the bowel rotation, ingestion of a foreign body or adhesions. In adults, it is frequently involves the sigmoid colon where as in children, it is usually the small bowel. Even though the cause of a volvulus may not be due to medical malpractice or negligence, the failure to diagnose a twisted bowel could be negligent. If a volvulus is not diagnosed or treated right away, it could have a mortality or death rate of 42-65 percent.
A volvulus can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating or distension, bloody stools, abdominal pain, constipation and even septic shock. If the twisted bowel is not immediately diagnosed and treated it could lead to bowel strangulation, a lack of blood flow and oxygen or ischemia, bowel infarction, bowel perforation and severe infection or peritonitis.
If a volvulus is suspected, the doctor or physician may order the following diagnostic tests to diagnose or rule out bowel twisting:
- X-rays - to look at air-fluid levels in the intestines
- CT scan - to look for a bowel obstruction
- Upper GI series - to look signs of a volvulus such as incomplete duodenal obstruction
- Barium enema - to show what areas of the bowel are affected
- White Blood Cell (WBC) count - to check for infection or sepsis
If a volvulus is diagnosed, treatment is based on the patient's age and where the twisted bowel is located. If there is necrotic bowel, immediate surgical intervention and bowel resection is required. If it is a child with a mid-gut volvulus they usually undergo surgery and have a Ladd procedure performed where the surgeon can directly see the twisted bowel and correct it. Sometimes, in adults, a non-surgical procedure where a sigmoidoscope or rectal tube is inserted to deflate the bowel can be done to help allow the bowel to relax and untwist without needing surgery.
Successful treatment of a volvulus depends on prompt diagnose and treatment before there is bowel death or severe peritonitis. If you or a loved one developed a bowel obstruction of volvulus that went undiagnosed and it caused severe and permanent damage, you may be eligible for compensation.
Since 1958, The Beasley Firm has been the law firm that many judges, lawyers, and doctors turn to when facing catastrophic injury or wrongful death due to medical malpractice. Our medical malpractice team also has a complete nursing and medical research staff - including two doctors who are attorneys, a former NICU charge nurse who is an attorney, and several registered nurses who are well-versed in all aspects of medical malpractice. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced lawyers, doctors or nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.