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Intestinal malrotation as an incidental finding on CT in adults

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Background:Intestinal malrotation in adults is usually an incidental finding on computed tomography (CT). We present the CT findings of 18 adult patients with malrotation and discuss the clinical implications.

Methods: Abdominal scans of 18 patients (12 women, six men; age range = 15–79 years) with intestinal malrotation were reviewed. Special attention was directed to the location of the superior mesenteric vessels, the location of the small and large bowels, the size of the uncinate process, the situs definition, and additional anomalies.

Results: The malrotation was an incidental finding in all but one patient. The malrotation was type Ia in 17 patients and IIc in the one symptomatic patient. The superior mesenteric vessels were vertically oriented in 10, inverted in two, normally positioned in four, and mirror imaged in two cases with situs ambiguus. All patients had aplasia of the pancreatic uncinate process, five had a short pancreas, and two had a preduodenal portal vein. Fourteen patients had a normal situs and four had heterotaxia. Seven patients had polysplenia, six of which with associated inferior vena cava anomalies.

Conclusions: Intestinal malrotation can be diagnosed on CT by the anatomic location of a right-sided small bowel, left-sided colon, an abnormal relationship of the superior mesenteric vessels, and aplasia of the uncinate process. Awareness of these abnormalities is necessary to diagnose this anomaly. It should be sought in patients with a situs problem, inferior vena cava anomalies, polysplenia, or preduodenal portal vein. Although usually an incidental finding, it is important to diagnose such a malrotation because it may cause abdominal symptoms. Also, knowledge of associated vascular anomalies is important when abdominal surgery is planned.

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Received: 1 October 1998/Revision accepted: 27 January 1999

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Zissin, R., Rathaus, V., Oscadchy, A. et al. Intestinal malrotation as an incidental finding on CT in adults. Abdom Imaging 24, 550–555 (1999).

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