Intestinal malrotation

Intestinal malrotation
Intestinal malrotation
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 Q43.3
ICD-9 751.4
OMIM 193250
eMedicine ped/1200

Intestinal malrotation is a congenital anomaly of rotation of the midgut (embryologically, the gut undergoes a complex rotation outside the abdomen). As a result:

  • the small bowel is found predominantly on the right side of the abdomen
  • the cecum is displaced (from its usual position in the right lower quadrant) into the epigastrium - right hypochondrium
  • the ligament of Treitz is displaced inferiorly and rightward
  • fibrous bands (of Ladd) course over the horizontal part of the duodenum (DII), causing intestinal obstruction.
  • the small intestine has an unusually narrow base, and therefore the midgut is prone to volvulus (a twisting that can obstruct the mesenteric blood vessels and cause intestinal ischemia).


Associated conditions

This can lead to a number of disease manifestations such as:


The exact causes are not known. It is not associated with a particular gene, but there is some evidence of recurrence in families.[1]


Patients (often infants) present acutely with midgut volvulus, manifested by bilious vomiting, crampy abdominal pain, abdominal distention, and the passage of blood and mucus in their stool. Patients with chronic, uncorrected malrotation can have recurrent abdominal pain and vomiting.

Malrotation can also be entirely asymptomatic.


With acutely ill patients, consider emergency surgery laparotomy if there is a high index of suspicion.

Plain radiography may demonstrate signs of duodenal obstruction with dilatation of the proximal duodenum and stomach but it is often non-specific. Upper gastrointestinal series is the modality of choice for the evaluation of malrotation as it will show an abnormal position of the duodeno-jejunal flexure (ligament of Treitz). In cases of malrotation complicated with volvulus, it demonstrates a corkscrew appearance of the distal duodenum and jejunum. In cases of obstructing Ladd bands, it will reveal a duodenal obstruction.

In equivocal cases, contrast enema, may be helpful by showing the caecum at an abnormal location.

It is usually discovered near birth, but in some cases is not discovered until adulthood.[2] In adults, the "whirlpool sign" of the superior mesenteric artery can be useful in identifying malrotation.[3]


Resuscitate the patient with fluids to stabilize them before surgically

  • correcting the malrotation
  • cutting the fibrous bands over the duodenum.

With this condition the appendix is often on the wrong side of the body and therefore removed as a precausionary measure during the surgical procedure.

One surgical technique is known as "Ladd's procedure", after Dr. William Ladd.[4][5]

See also


  1. ^ Stalker HJ, Chitayat D (1992). "Familial intestinal malrotation with midgut volvulus and facial anomalies: a disorder involving a gene controlling the normal gut rotation?". Am. J. Med. Genet. 44 (1): 46–7. doi:10.1002/ajmg.1320440111. PMID 1519649. 
  2. ^ Dietz DW, Walsh RM, Grundfest-Broniatowski S, Lavery IC, Fazio VW, Vogt DP (2002). "Intestinal malrotation: a rare but important cause of bowel obstruction in adults". Dis. Colon Rectum 45 (10): 1381–6. doi:10.1007/s10350-004-6429-0. PMID 12394439. 
  3. ^ Yeh WC, Wang HP, Chen C, Wang HH, Wu MS, Lin JT (1999). "Preoperative sonographic diagnosis of midgut malrotation with volvulus in adults: the "whirlpool" sign". Journal of Clinical Ultrasound 27 (5): 279–83. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0096(199906)27:5<279::AID-JCU8>3.0.CO;2-G. PMID 10355892. 
  4. ^ Ladd WE (1936). "Surgical Diseases of the Alimentary Tract in Infants". N Engl J Med 215: 705–8. doi:10.1056/NEJM193610152151604. 
  5. ^ Bass KD, Rothenberg SS, Chang JH (1998). "Laparoscopic Ladd's procedure in infants with malrotation". J. Pediatr. Surg. 33 (2): 279–81. doi:10.1016/S0022-3468(98)90447-X. PMID 9498402. 

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