Sigmoid colon volvulus - Definition

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A volvulus is the Latin term for when a tube twists back on itself, creating a knot that strangles at the base. Sigmoid colon volvulus is therefore a knot in the terminal section of the colon, responsible for a blockage inside the digestive tract. It can also be responsible for compression of certain blood vessels, which can lead to necrosis, meaning the death of cells that are deprived of oxygen, if the volvulus is not quickly treated. In these cases, matter can no longer progress along the tract, causing constipation. The symptoms of sigmoid colon volvulus are severe, sudden abdominal pain, early-onset constipation, flatulence, major abdominal swelling, and even vomiting at advanced stages. An X-ray imaging technique called abdominal X-ray without contrast, or a scan, can reveal this condition. When signs indicating necrosis are observed, surgical ablation of the necrotic area is urgently required, without which the colon could be "detorsed" by colonoscopy.