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J Am Coll Surg. 2008 Apr;206(4):658-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2007.11.020. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

Age-related differences in diagnosis and morbidity of intestinal malrotation.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Am Coll Surg. 2008 Jun;206(6):1249.



Intestinal malrotation in adulthood may present with a variety of chronic symptoms. Surgical intervention frequently leads to other complications in these patients. We hypothesized that the chronic nature of malrotation in adults could cause a delay in diagnosis and increased perioperative complications.


All patients diagnosed with intestinal malrotation from July 2002 through July 2006 were included. IRB approval was obtained. Outcomes in patients less than 16 years of age were compared with outcomes from those older than 16. Presenting symptoms, initial diagnosis, results of imaging data, and time to diagnosis were evaluated. Surgical management, resulting complications, and rate of reoperation were analyzed.


Twenty-four patients with intestinal malrotation were identified (age range, 10 days to 89 years old; 10 adults, 14 children). Seventy percent of adults experienced chronic symptoms for 6 months or more before the diagnosis of malrotation was made (children, 14%, p = 0.017). No patients in the adult group were initially diagnosed with malrotation, although 57% of children were correctly diagnosed at the time of presentation of symptoms (p=0.006). Postoperative complications occurred in 60% of adults, but in only 29% of children, though this did not reach significance (p=0.211). Forty percent of adult patients required reoperation (p=0.020).


Intestinal malrotation in adults is often associated with a delay in diagnosis and increased morbidity. Enhanced awareness of this entity in adults may enhance patient counseling and improve therapeutic outcomes in these patients.

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