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Abdominal Malrotation Is Commonly Misdiagnosed

The Chicago Sun-Times reported today in its health column about a frequently misdiagnosed medical problem in newborns called malrotation.  Malrotation is an abnormal alignment of the bowels which can cut off blood flow to the baby’s intestines.  Malrotation occurs in 1 in 500 births, and most cases are diagnosed within the first year of life.

The condition is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are often confused with other, less serious conditions, like acid reflux or colic.  The condition can have serious consequences if it goes undiagnosed.  The longer the blood flow is cut off from the intestines, the more harmful the condition can become.  Undiagnosed and untreated it can result in death.  The gold standard treatment is a surgical procedure which untwists the bowel.

It is not completely understood what causes malrotation.  it is known that it occurs in the early stages of fetal development and is more common in children with a family history of malrotation.  Because of the potential fatal consequences of malrotation and the fact that its symptoms are often misunderstood as other minor health problems, the misdiagnosis of malrotation is often the subject matter of medical malpractice lawsuits.