Diagnosis of pediatric colonic volvulus with abdominal radiography: how good are we?

Megan B. Marine, Matthew L. Cooper, Lisa R. Delaney, Samuel Gregory Jennings, Frederick Rescorla, Boaz Karmazyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background: Colonic volvulus is rare in children and associated with colonic dysmotility. Diagnosis of colonic volvulus on radiographs in these patients can be challenging. The purpose of the study was to identify the accuracy of abdominal radiographs and findings suggestive of colonic volvulus. Materials and methods: A retrospective (2003- 2014) study of all children with colonic volvulus proven surgically or endoscopically reviewed their medical charts for underlying disease and clinical presentation as well as their original radiograph reports. Two pediatric radiologists (reader 1 and reader 2) independently reviewed the radiographs. The kappa test was used to evaluate interobserver variability. Results: There were 19 cases of colonic volvulus in 18 patients (11 males) a mean age 14 years. Cecal volvulus was the most common finding at 14/19 cases (74%). Sixteen of 18 (89%) patients had neurological impairment and 10 of 18 (56%) had intestinal dysmotility. The most common presentation was abdominal distension (14/19 [74%]) and pain (11/19 [58%]). Colonic volvulus was diagnosed in only 7/16 (44%) of the abdominal radiographs. The specific finding of a coffee-bean sign was retrospectively observed only by reader 2 in two cases. Absence of rectal gas and focal colonic loop dilation were the most common findings by the readers (average 73.5% and 87%, respectively) with Kappa values of 0.3 and 0.38, respectively. Conclusion: Diagnosis of colonic volvulus in children can be challenging. Radiologists should be alerted to the possibility of colonic volvulus when there is focal colonic loop distention or absent rectal gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-410
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Abdomen
  • Children
  • Colon
  • Colonic volvulus
  • Intestinal dysmotility
  • Obstruction
  • Radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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