Background: Sigmoid volvulus is an exceptionally rare and potentially life-threatening condition in the pediatric age group. Study Design: We report our experience with three children treated for sigmoid volvulus and review the cases reported in the medical literature since 1940. Results: Since 1940, 63 cases of sigmoid volvulus in children (including this series) have been reported. The median age was 7 years and the male to female ratio was 3.5:1. Two distinct presentations (acute and recurrent) were identified. Abdominal symptoms dominated the clinical picture. Barium enemas either confirmed or were highly suggestive of sigmoid volvulus. Reduction by barium enema was successful in 77% (10 of 13) of the attempts. Forty-nine patients underwent operative treatment, with sigmoidectomy (with or without primary anastomosis) being the most common. The overall mortality rate was 6%, operative mortality was 8.1%, and neonatal mortality was 14%. Associated conditions were frequent. Particular emphasis should be placed on ruling out Hirschsprung's disease (present in 11 of 63 patients). Conclusions: Sigmoid volvulus remains a rare occurrence in children, but it should be included in the differential diagnosis of pain in children when colonic distention is present. An algorithm for treatment is proposed. (C) 2000 American College of Surgeons.
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