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Dis Colon Rectum. 1992 Apr;35(4):350-3.

Sigmoid volvulus in the high altitude of the Andes. Review of 230 cases.

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Department of Surgery, Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, California.


Sigmoid volvulus (SV) is uncommon in the United States. Little has been published in the English literature about the high incidence of SV among rural areas of the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes at 13,000 feet above sea level. A review of 230 cases of SV in a Bolivian hospital is presented. SV accounted for 79 percent of all intestinal obstructions. Nonoperative reduction was attempted in all patients except those with peritonitis. Nonoperative reduction alone was performed in 31 percent of the patients, and 69 percent underwent surgical intervention, 66 percent as an emergency and 3 percent electively. Surgical treatment consisted of sigmoidectomy and primary anastomosis (50 percent), Hartmann's procedure (12 percent), and operative detorsion with sigmoid plication (38 percent). Overall mortality was 13.5 percent. Fifty-seven of the surgically treated patients developed significant complications. The etiology of SV is unclear. High altitude, along with other etiologic factors, may play an important role in SV. To our knowledge, this series represents the highest incidence of SV in bowel obstruction.

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