Volvulus, Intestinal

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  • A twist about the long axis of the gut.
  • Generally in the small intestine.
  • Intense congestion
    • Often almost black.
  • Mostly in young animals
    • Especially calves and piglets
    • Occasionally sheep and dogs.
    • Occasionally in greater mesentery of horse.


  • Loop of bowel twists through 180 degrees around mesentery to produce obstruction of lumen.
  • Proximal the the obstruction, the bowel becomes rapidly distended.
    • Venous return is first shut off, but the arterial supply remains.
      • Bowel becomes engorged with blood.
    • Produces rapid death.
  • Bowel becomes hypoxic.
    Torsion of the large colon in the horse (Courtesy of Elspeth Milne)
    • Toxic material and bacteria pass through the anoxic wall of bowel.
  • In piglets may see whole of small intestine twisted around root of mesentery.
    • Very little can be done to resolve this** Produces rapid death