Axial torsion as a rare and unusual complication of a Meckel's diverticulum: a case report and review of the literature

Ajai Seth, Jai Seth
Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5: 118

INTRODUCTION: In 1809, Johann Friedrich Meckel described the embryology of a small bowel diverticulum, which now bears his name. Meckel's diverticulum is the most common congenital abnormality of the gastrointestinal tract, with a prevalence ranging from 1% to 4% of the population. The majority are clinically silent and are incidentally identified at surgery or at autopsy. The lifetime risk of complications is estimated at 4%, with most of these complications occurring in adults. It is these cases that can cause problems for the clinician, as the diagnosis can be elusive and the consequences extremely serious.

CASE PRESENTATION: We present the case of a 68-year-old Caucasian man with axial torsion of a Meckel's diverticulum around its base, a rare complication. He presented with acute, severe abdominal pain, and a clinical diagnosis of perforated acute appendicitis was made. Laparotomy revealed a torted Meckel's diverticulum with distal necrosis and perforation, which was resected. His recovery was uncomplicated, and he was discharged to home six days post-operatively.

CONCLUSION: Torsion is an extremely rare complication of Meckel's diverticulum. Its presentation can be elusive, and it can mimic a number of different, more common intra-abdominal pathologies. Imaging appears to be an unreliable diagnostic tool, and the diagnosis is usually made intra-operatively. Factors pre-disposing these patients to axial torsion of Meckel's diverticulum include the presence of mesodiverticular bands, a narrow base, excessive length, and associated neoplastic growth or inflammation of the diverticulum. The importance of searching for a diseased Meckel's diverticulum at laparotomy in appropriate circumstances is highlighted. Once identified, prompt surgical excision generally leads to an uncomplicated recovery.

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