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Twisted Colon

A twisted colon, medically known as colonic volvulus, is a condition in which certain portions of the colon become twisted onto itself.  This causes the blood flow in the area to become restricted and also causes gas and fluid to accumulate in the region.  As a result, the bowels become obstructed and the tissue in the affected area can die off, requiring immediate surgical attention.

The two portions of the colon most commonly twisted are the sigmoid colon and the cecum.  A twisted colon can be quite painful, but is usually fairly easy to treat once it has been diagnosed.  As with all potentially serious disorders, the earlier it’s diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated.


The symptoms associated with the twisted colon are quite similar to other digestive disorders and illnesses.  Therefore, it is easy to confuse this condition with other maladies.  These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal distention
  • Abdominal pain, which may come on suddenly and be quite severe
  • In more severe cases shock or dehydration may occur

Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors promoting a twisted colon.  In addition, certain groups are more likely to experience it.  For example, there are 14 times more cases in individuals over the age of 60 as compared to those younger than 60.

The design of the colon also plays a role in the risk for colon that is twisted.  Individuals with long sigmoid colons (with a narrow mesentery) are more likely to develop twisting in this region.  A person whose right colon has not fused to the retroperitoneum is also more likely to have twisting in the cecal area.  Researchers are not sure, however, whether or not these abnormalities of the colon are caused by lifestyle choices or if they are genetic in origin.

Causes of Colon Twisting

In addition to predisposition because of age and anatomy, there are a few irregular causes for this condition as well.  Suffering from chronic constipation, for example, can actually lead to a twisted colon over time.  For this reason, it is important to follow a high fiber diet and drink plenty of water.  This will help keep things moving smoothly in your colon and will help prevent constipation.  In addition, foods that are high in fats or artificial additives should be severely limited, as these foods encourage the colon to create excessive mucus and sludge in order to protect itself. You are more likely to become chronically constipated if your colon cannot properly digest the foods you eat.

In order to prevent chronic constipation or to help alleviate the problem if you are already suffering from it, you should also engage in an occasional colon cleansing.  The ideal way to cleanse your colon is with an oxygen-based herbal supplement that will liquefy the waste stuck on the walls of your colon.  That way, your entire colon is cleansed and blockage is less likely to occur in the future. By helping your body to prevent or treat chronic constipation, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing a twisted colon.

Abdominal adhesions and certain defects in the colon can also lead to twisting of the colon.  In order to prevent it from developing, these underlying causes should be treated as early as possible.


A doctor specializing in digestive disorders must take an x-ray of the digestive system to diagnose colon twisting; unfortunately, it’s often misdiagnosed if x-ray is the only approach utilized.  In some cases, a CT scan is necessary to confirm the first diagnosis.

After diagnosis, the most common form of treatment is endoscopic decompression which makes use of specialized surgical instruments to reposition the twisted sections.  As a result, someone with twisting of the colon usually releases a large amount of air and waste as the colon is finally untangled.  If twisted colon is not successfully treated with endoscopic decompression, the colon may need to be decompressed further with a flexible endoscope instead.  This is usually necessary when the rigid scope is unable to reach the area of the colon that is misaligned.

Most cases of colon twisting can be successfully decompressed.  In some cases, however, a rectal tube may need to be inserted in order to treat it. This procedure requires surgical intervention.  If any of the surrounding tissue has died as a result of the twisted colon, kind of like keeping a really tight twine on your finger too long, this will have to be removed with a colostomy. Otherwise, the rectal tube will be inserted during the surgery and removed possibly two or three weeks following the surgery.

Twisted Colon Treatment

If you suffer from a twisted colon, you are more likely to develop the problem again later in life.  In fact, nearly half of all individuals treated through endoscopic decompression will experience twisting of the colon again.

Although you may not be able to control factors such as age or anatomical predisposition, you can certainly help prevent constipation as a possible contributor to twisting of the colon. Remember—maintain a good diet replete with high fiber foods such as whole grains and breads, fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, and try to minimize the meat as the human digestive system just can’t process it very well. Exercise on a regular basis, not just walking but practice a variety of activities (up to your unique comfort zone) to maintain personal enthusiasm and keep your body “excited” by new challenges. Very important—stay hydrated! Drink as much clean, fresh water as you can on a daily basis. You will notice the difference in many ways, not the least of which is helping your colon work it’s best to keep toxins and garbage out of your system. Perhaps most importantly—once you begin to implement these positive changes in your life . . . do your very best to stay disciplined and keep up the good work!

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