You may have heard or leaned about a digestive system disorder known as intestinal obstruction. As the name suggests, it occurs when the small or the large intestine encounters a blockage in its path for food and fluid to pass through for digestion. And this problem can cause bouts of uncomfortable signs and symptoms. And without any treatment, the tissues of the part of the intestine that is blocked may die. And this in turn may give rise to severe complications. This blockage problem is related to many conditions, and one of them is a condition that forms the main topic of discussion in this article - twisted bowel, or more appropriately known as volvulus.
What is Volvulus and What Symptoms can Indicate its Onset?
As already described, due to certain reasons, the intestine may get twisted in an abnormal way. And the direct consequence of this may be an obstruction in the passage of food and fluids, reduced blood supply, and in extreme case, tissue death. Symptoms aren't many of them, and whatever there are, can be easily taken for symptoms of a condition of upset stomach or something else. The symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, blood in stool, nausea/vomiting, and constipation. Inability to pass gas, diarrhea, and swelling of the abdominal region. All these symptoms occur mainly due to bowel obstruction or reduced blood flow.
Causes are not yet specifically determined, but conditions such as Crohn's disease and hernias happen to the contributing factors. The first condition is one of the many Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). It triggers inflammation of the digestive tract, which can contribute in this problem of twisted bowel in adults and the elderly. And a condition that is marked by the protrusion of a tissue through a weak spot in the abdominal walls, is known as hernia. And even this can contribute in the development of volvulus.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctor enquires the patient about the symptoms that he has been experiencing off late, and also about his medical history. Symptoms such as swollen abdomen, may give the doctor an impression of twisted bowel. However, the diagnosis is confirmed with the help of X-ray or Computerized Tomography (CT) scans of the abdomen. With all such imaging tests, the doctor may be able to detect the problem, and if it's causing a partial or a complete intestinal obstruction.
Treatment of twisted bowel begins by stabilizing the patient. This may mean putting an Intravenous (IV) line into the vein to provide fluids, or using medical instruments to suck out air and fluid. This would help in reducing abdominal swelling. Also, doctors may choose to drain the urine of the patient, for testing. Now, if this bowel obstruction tends to allow the passage of some food or fluid, then merely being stabilized at the hospital is considered good enough. Most people recover from partial blockage without the need of any treatment. However, it is worrisome when the twisted intestine has completely stopped the passage of any food or fluid. And for this, a surgical procedure to treat the volvulus may become a must. With the help of laparotomy, the problem can be corrected thus, getting rid of the obstruction, and restoring the blood flow.
Twisted bowel in elderly may be more concerning than when it occurs in younger adults. Most often, people who experience symptoms such as the above ones, assume that they are caused by just another indigestion. However, if the affected person is an elderly, then one must seek medical help at the earliest. It is better to err on the side of caution. Take care!