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A to Z: Intestinal Malrotation

May also be called: Volvulus, Ladd’s Bands

Malrotation is twisting of the intestines (bowel). It happens when a baby’s intestines don’t develop properly in the uterus (womb). 

More to Know

A twist in the bowel can block food from moving through the digestive system. A very bad twist might cut off blood flow to the bowel. When that happens, the bowel starts to die. 

Most of the time, doctors discover a malrotation in a baby’s first year of life. Babies whose bowels are twisted usually shows signs of belly pain and cramps by pulling up their legs and crying. A baby with a malrotation often has a swollen belly, throws up, has diarrhea (sometimes with blood), or can’t poop at all.  

Some people with malrotation don’t have problems and go through life without knowing they have it.

Fixing a malrotation often means surgery. After the problem is fixed, most kids grow and develop normally.

Keep in Mind

Intestinal malrotation can be an emergency. Go to the ER right away if a child has a swollen, tender belly and throws up bile (yellow or green liquid) or has bloody stools (poop).

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.