, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 518-528
Date: 12 Feb 2008

Diagnostic performance of the upper gastrointestinal series in the evaluation of children with clinically suspected malrotation

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Abstract

Background

Malrotation is a congenital disorder of abnormal intestinal rotation and fixation that predisposes infants to potentially life-threatening midgut volvulus. Upper gastrointestinal tract (UGI) examination is sometimes equivocal and can lead to inaccurate diagnosis.

Objective

To determine the diagnostic performance of UGI examinations in children who subsequently underwent a Ladd procedure for suspected malrotation or volvulus.

Materials and methods

We reviewed all children up to 21 years old who had undergone both a UGI examination and a Ladd procedure for possible malrotation across 9 years. Children were excluded if they had not undergone either a UGI examination or a Ladd procedure and if congenital abdominal wall defects were present.

Results

Of 229 patients identified, 166 (59% male, median age 67 days) were included. Excluded were 47 without a UGI series, 12 with omphalocele or gastroschisis, 1 without verifiable operative data, 1 who had not undergone a Ladd procedure, and 2 older than 21 years. Of the 166 patients, 40% were neonates and 73% were <12 months old, and 31% presented with bilious vomiting and 15% with abdominal distention. Of 163 patients with surgically verified malrotation, 156 had a positive UGI examination, a sensitivity of 96%. There were two patients with a false-positive UGI examination and seven with false-negative examination. Jejunal position was normal in six of the seven with a false-negative examination and abnormal in the two with a false-positive examination. Of 38 patients with surgically verified volvulus, 30 showed volvulus on the UGI series. Five required bowel resection and three died.

Conclusion

Jejunal position can lead to inaccurate UGI series interpretation. Meticulous technique and periodic assessment of performance will help more accurately diagnose difficult or equivocal cases.