The efficiency of sonography in diagnosing volvulus in neonates with suspected intestinal malrotation

Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Oct;96(42):e8287. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000008287.


This study is to prospectively evaluate the efficiency of sonography for volvulus diagnosis in neonates with clinically suspected intestinal malrotation.A total of 83 patients with suspected intestinal malrotation who underwent detailed abdominal sonography and upper gastrointestinal contrast study were included. Malrotation was characterized by inversion of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and superior mesenteric vein (SMV) in sonographic examination. The "whirlpool sign" of Color Doppler Sonography was recognized as a characteristic for malrotation with volvulus. The degrees of rotation of the SMV winding around SMA were also detected by sonography. Surgery was performed in patients with sonography diagnosed malrotation.A total of 39 patients were sonographically diagnosed as malrotation which was subsequently confirmed by surgery. The sensitivity and positive predictive value of the sonographic diagnosis were both 100% (39/39). The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of "whirlpool sign" for the detection of midgut volvulus were 95.2% (20/21), 88.9% (16/18), and 92.3% (36/39), respectively. Greater degrees of rotation (equal or greater than 720°) showed higher risk (odds ratio, 5.0; P < .01) for intestinal necrosis occurrence.Sonography is more accurate in diagnosing suspected malrotation than upper gastrointestinal contrast study. Specific sonographic "whirlpool sign" related to volvulus may be used as a potential indicator for intestinal necrosis. In addition, sonography can exclude malrotation and may help the diagnosis of other diseases, such as annular pancreas and duodenal atresia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Digestive System Abnormalities / diagnosis
  • Digestive System Abnormalities / diagnostic imaging*
  • Digestive System Abnormalities / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Volvulus / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Volvulus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intestinal Volvulus / pathology
  • Male
  • Mesenteric Artery, Superior / diagnostic imaging
  • Mesenteric Artery, Superior / pathology
  • Mesenteric Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Mesenteric Veins / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / methods*

Supplementary concepts

  • Volvulus Of Midgut