World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 34, Issue 8, pp 1943–1948

Management of Acute Sigmoid Volvulus: An Institution’s Experience Over 9 Years


DOI: 10.1007/s00268-010-0563-8

Cite this article as:
Tan, KK., Chong, CS. & Sim, R. World J Surg (2010) 34: 1943. doi:10.1007/s00268-010-0563-8



Management of sigmoid volvulus is often challenging because of its prevalence in high-risk patients and the associated perioperative morbidity and mortality rates. This study was designed to review the management and outcome of all patients admitted with sigmoid volvulus.


A retrospective review of all patients who were admitted for sigmoid volvulus from October 2001 to June 2009 was performed. Diagnosis was confirmed on clinical evaluation, radiological studies, and/or intraoperative findings.


Seventy-one patients, median age 73 (range, 17–96) years, were admitted a total of 134 times for acute sigmoid volvulus during the study period. The majority (n = 51, 71.8%) were older than aged 60 years, and 41 (57.7%) had at least one premorbid condition. Seven (9.9%) patients underwent emergency surgery on presentation. The remaining 64 (90.1%) patients were initially managed conservatively using a flatus tube and/or sigmoidoscopic decompression. One patient had an endoscopic-related perforation and required emergency surgery. Another ten patients failed conservative management for which nine underwent operative intervention. The last patient refused surgery and died subsequently. Fifty-three (74.6%) patients had successful conservative management; seven of them underwent elective surgery subsequently. Of the remaining 46 patients, 28 (60.9%) were admitted for recurrent sigmoid volvulus. Of these 28 patients, 12 eventually had elective surgery after successful decompression, whereas the remaining 16 were not operated. In our series, three patients died after emergency surgery and there was no mortality after elective surgery. Another six patients died from medical conditions that were unrelated to sigmoid volvulus.


Acute sigmoid volvulus is a surgical emergency, although the majority (75%) can be successfully decompressed nonoperatively. Emergency surgery in these patients is associated with a mortality of 17.6% in our series. Elective definitive surgery is suggested in view of the high recurrence rate (>60%) and the considerable risks of emergency surgery.

Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General SurgeryTan Tock Seng Hospital SingaporeSingapore