About Malrotation And Its Symptoms


"Malrotation is a rare abnormality in infants that leads their intestines to form in an incorrect way. Malrotation is generally inevident until the baby experiences discomfort due to the twisting of the intestine referred to as volvulus."

What Is Malrotation?

Malrotation is characterized as an abnormality in which an infant’s intestine is not formed in the correct manner in the abdomen. The condition occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, somewhere around the 10th week, and develops when the intestine fails to coil in the proper position in the abdomen. The condition often causes discomforting pain and twisting known as volvulus, which often indicates the presence of the abnormality in the infant.

Volvulus can cause an obstruction in the intestine, prevent food from being digested normally or cut off the blood supply to the twisted part of the intestine and leading to the death of that segment of the intestine. Malrotation can have fatal results if not treated soon enough.

Malrotation is an extremely rare medical condition. Most of the times when infants develop the condition, the symptoms occur in the first year of life. Nearly 60% of cases are diagnosed during the first week of life. The chances of developing the condition are equal in boys and girls, however, the symptoms are visible in boys relatively earlier than in girls.

What Causes Malrotation?

Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, the process of how it occurs is understood by the experts. When a fetus develops in the womb, the intestines start out as a small, straight tube between the stomach and the rectus. The tube develops into the different organs, and the intestine moves into the umbilical cord that supplies nutrition to the developing embryo.

Around the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the intestines move from the umbilical cord into the abdomen. When the intestines do not turn properly after moving into the abdomen, malrotation occurs.

What Are The Symptoms Of Malrotation?

The most common and one of the initial signs of the condition is abdominal pain caused by the obstruction leading to the inability of passing bowels. An infant who is affected by this condition often suffers from cramping pain. You may notice them cry while pulling their legs up, then suddenly stop crying for 10-15 minutes, and the cycle repeats again. This specific crying pattern helps identify the condition in the initial stages.

Some other symptoms of malrotation include:

  • Frequent vomiting (often green or yellow-green in colour)
  • A swollen, firm abdomen
  • Pale-coloured skin
  • Poor appetite
  • Little or no urine
  • Infrequent bowel movements
  • Blood in the stools
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or tiredness

If you notice any of these symptoms in your baby or suspect anything that is not normal, consult your paediatrician immediately.

Dr Bhupathi Rajendra Prasad
Dr Bhupathi Rajendra Prasad
Consultant – Surgical Gastroenterologist

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.

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