Learning About Volvulus in Infants

What is volvulus?

Volvulus is a twisting of the intestine. It can happen in a baby when the intestine doesn't grow in the right place (malrotation).

Volvulus is an emergency. The twisting of the intestine can cut off blood flow and lead to death of the tissue. It can make your baby very sick and can be deadly. Your baby will need surgery right away.

What are the symptoms?

If your baby has volvulus, he or she may seem fussy at first but can get very sick quickly. Symptoms include:

  • Belly pain.
  • Green vomit.
  • A swollen belly.
  • No stools, or bloody stools.

How is volvulus treated?

Volvulus is treated with surgery. The doctor untwists the intestine and removes any part of it that has died. The healthy ends of the intestine are sewn back together. In some cases a second surgery is needed within 1 or 2 days.

Your baby will probably be in the hospital for 4 to 6 days after the surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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