Cecal Volvulus (Volvulus) – What Causes it?
What causes cecal volvulus?
There are many theories about this condition. Some say that there is something wrong with your digestive system or even your immune system. Others believe that it’s due to an infection in the colon. Still others think that it’s caused by stress, malnutrition, or certain medications.
The most common theory is that it’s caused by an abnormal growth of bacteria in the small intestine. These bacteria cause inflammation and irritation of the lining of the colon. When this happens, some food particles get stuck inside the small intestine and then pass out through your stools.
You may have noticed that sometimes when you eat a large meal, you don’t feel full until several hours later. This is because these food particles have already passed through your intestines and entered the bloodstream.
In other words, when you have cecal volvulus, your body doesn’t absorb all the nutrients from the foods that you eat. Instead they get trapped inside your stomach and pass out through your stools instead of being absorbed into your blood stream. This results in not only feeling hungry but also having a bloated feeling throughout the day.
Cecal Volvulus Symptoms (What are the signs and symptoms of cecal volvulus?
The main symptom is, of course, an enlarged belly. You may think that you’re simply overweight, or even obese, but in reality, that’s not true. Cecal volvulus causes food to remain in your stomach for several hours before it passes out in your stool instead of getting absorbed into your blood stream.
This means that your stomach will remain distended even if you haven’t eaten anything for several hours.
Another sign of cecal volvulus is chronic indigestion and heartburn. The food that remains in your stomach will ferment, causing an acidic environment in your stomach. Eventually this can lead to inflammation of the stomach lining.
This is another reason why you may want to see a doctor because it could always be something more serious.
Other signs and symptoms of cecal volvulus include:
Anemia, due to not absorbing nutrients from your food.
Feeling of fullness despite eating a small meal.
Loss of weight.
Bloated feeling all the time.
Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.
Diarrhea or loose stools.
Foul smelling stools.
Feeling of hit or vomit.
Cecal Volvulus Diagnosis (How do I know if I have it?
If you think you have cecal volvulus, or even if you don’t think you have it but want to get a check-up anyway, here are a few questions your doctor may ask you:
Are you experiencing abdominal pain?
Are you experiencing an enlarged belly?
Do you experience nausea or vomiting?
Do you experience a loss of appetite?
Have you lost weight unintentionally?
Have you had bloody, black, or tarry stools?
Have you had any problems with diarrhea or loose stools?
Have you had problems with constipation?
Have you had problems with heartburn or acid reflux?
Do you feel generally unwell or do you have an elevated fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)?
Does food seem to remain in your stomach for a long period of time?
Have you had any problems with blood in the stool, black stools, or tarry stools?
Once your doctor has asked you these questions and examined you, she may order the following tests:
Barium Swallow (X-ray test to examine your esophagus and stomach).
Upper GI (Gastrointestinal) Ultrasound.
Although these tests may be inconclusive or don’t show anything wrong, you may need to undergo further testing. Cecal volvulus is a condition in which one of your cecum’s bowel is flipped or twisted inside out. This happens when your cecum becomes inflamed.
It can trap the bowel inside of it and prevent it from functioning normally. Your doctor may suspect that you have this condition if:
You have an enlarged belly.
You pass blood, black, or tarry stools.
You are losing weight unintentionally without trying to lose weight.
You feel sick all the time with no known cause.
You experience constant pain in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen.
You experience nausea, vomiting, or both.
You experience constipation or diarrhea or both.
The cecum is an organ located in the lower right side of your abdomen. The cecum aids in breaking down and absorbing nutrients that your small intestines cannot break down on their own. It also secretes acids strong enough to dissolve bones; this helps with the process of digesting animal bones.
The cecum is located in a pouch of it’s own called the peritoneum. If you have cecal volvulus, then your cecum has become twisted inside out and is now outside your peritoneum. This prevents the cecum from functioning normally and digesting food.
Another function of your cecum is to filter out any possible illnesses that are in your food, such as bacteria or parasites. When your cecum is outside your peritoneum and twisted inside out, it is no longer capable of doing this. This puts you at risk of becoming very sick very quickly due to the build-up of bacteria in your system.
Diagnosis and Treatment (What will they do to help me?
Your doctor can easily diagnose you with cecal volvulus through a combination of your symptoms, your medical history, and a physical examination.
If you are diagnosed with cecal volvulus, your doctor will immediately take steps to perform an emergency surgery. She will preform an operation to return your cecum to it’s correct place within your abdomen. The opening of your cecum is much smaller than the rest of your large intestine.
This means that it is much easier to treat and fix; this also means that it will take less time for you to recover from the surgery.
After your cecum is returned to its correct position, you will need to undergo an intensive recovery process over the next few days in order to regain your strength. You may experience some side effects from the anesthesia such as vomiting, nausea, and headaches. You may also be prescribed medication to help prevent any post-surgical infection.
You should be able to return home after you have made a complete recovery and feel well enough to do so. You may experience some bloating, gas pains, and cramps for a few weeks after the procedure; this is all normal and will go away eventually. Your doctor will give you advice on what foods to eat and what activities to avoid in order to speed up your recovery process.
In worst-case scenarios, cecal volvulus can be life threatening due to a severe loss of blood. You could also die from a rupture if your cecum bursts. It is best to seek immediate emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
One of your eyes begins to bulge out of its socket.
You vomit a blood clotted substance.
You experience severe pain in your stomach.
You feel like you are about to pass out.
These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition and require immediate medical attention.
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Cecal volvulus: CT findings and correlation with pathophysiology by E Delabrousse, P Sarliève, N Sailley, S Aubry… – Emergency …, 2007 – Springer
CT of cecal volvulus: unraveling the image by CJ Moore, FM Corl, EK Fishman – American Journal of …, 2001 – Am Roentgen Ray Soc
Cecal volvulus: the CT whirl sign by AJ Frank, LB Goffner, AA Fruauff, RA Losada – Abdominal imaging, 1993 – Springer