Tortuous Colon – Things You Need To Know In [AU] 2023
A tortuous colon is a condition characterized by an abnormally long colon. It is also called an elongated or redundant colon and causes the large intestine to twist and turn excessively. Although the human colon naturally has bends and folds, they are more pronounced when a patient has a redundant colon.
The anomaly has many causes and leads to various digestive symptoms, including stomach discomfort. Although many individuals remain asymptomatic, others may experience bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain.
Many individuals with a redundant colon find symptom relief by incorporating probiotics into their diet. Still, understanding the condition is critical for both patients and healthcare providers. Let’s dive deeper into the condition and navigate the path to optimal gut health.
What Is A Tortuous Colon?
A tortuous colon refers to an unusually long and winding large intestine. Although many individuals don’t experience symptoms, the condition can affect regions like the transverse colon.
Symptoms typically include slow transit constipation, pain in the abdomen, and bloating. While most cases aren’t life-threatening, severe cases can lead to complications like sigmoid volvulus.
While there is no obvious cause of redundant colon, genetics, previous surgeries, and underlying health conditions can contribute to the condition.
Adding probiotics and fiber supplements to your daily routine can also ease digestive discomfort. In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to avoid complications.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tortuous Colon?
A tortuous or redundant colon is characterized by an abnormally long colon with extra twists and turns throughout the large intestine. The condition can involve any part or the entire colon. However, it most commonly affects the sigmoid.
Although this condition may not always signify an underlying health condition, it can lead to various symptoms that impact your daily life. Recognizing the signs of a redundant colon is crucial for diagnosis and treatment.
Here are the most common tortuous colon symptoms patients experience:
- Constipation: One of the most common symptoms of a redundant colon is constipation. Individuals may experience difficulty passing stool, infrequent bowel movement, or hard, dry stool.
- Abdominal Pain: The extra bends and folds in the sigmoid colon can lead to abdominal discomfort. Abdominal pain can be intermittent or persistent.
- Bloating: Many individuals experience bloating due to trapped gas or infrequent bowel movements.
- Gas: On the contrary, excessive gas may become an issue for some individuals.
- Nausea: Another common symptom is nausea, which occurs due to the slow movement of food and waste through the digestive system.
- Weight Loss: Although tortuous colon and weight gain aren’t typically associated, prolonged symptoms may result in unintentional weight loss in severe cases.
- Rectal Impaction: This is most often seen in children, along with soiling their pants.
It’s crucial to note that these symptoms don’t always indicate a redundant colon. Many of these symptoms overlap with other common gastrointestinal-related conditions. Therefore, it’s critical to consult your healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment guidance.
Get Blown Away By Expert-Crafted Formula
Learn More About Colon Broom – one of the quality supplements promoting regular bowel movements, alleviates bloating, and supports healthy cholesterol levels.
How To Diagnose Tortuous Colon
Diagnosing a redundant colon is essential in determining the right treatment option. Ensuring your symptoms aren’t linked to a different underlying health condition is vital. Diagnosing the condition is critical because a redundant colon may lead to complications involving your urinary, vascular, and digestive health. The diagnostic process typically includes a medical history assessment, physical examination, and specialized tests.
Exploring Your Medical History
The first step in diagnosis involves a detailed discussion about your symptoms. Your physician will ask about your symptom’s frequency, duration, and intensity. They will also discuss any personal or family history of gastrointestinal conditions.
Your healthcare provider will conduct an abdominal examination as the next step. They will likely check for tenderness, swelling, or any unusual masses. This can sometimes indicate where the problem is located within the digestive tract.
A colonoscopy is one of the most definitive diagnostic tools for any colon-related issue. The procedure involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the rectum to view the entire colon. With an elongated colon, this test can identify unusual lengths, twists, and turns in the colon.
Barium Enema X-ray
This imaging test involves filling the colon with a barium contrast to give your healthcare provider a clearer view of the colon on an X-ray. Barium X-ray images can reveal abnormalities in the colon, such as elongation and excessive twisting.
A computed tomography scan provides detailed cross-sectional images of the body. It can be used to visualize the shape and length of your colon.
These tests can also help rule out other potential gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal tumors. If a redundant colon is diagnosed, your healthcare provider will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss potential treatment options.
What Are The Causes Of Tortuous Colon?
Many redundant colon cases have no known cause. Still, many factors and conditions contribute to or exacerbate the condition. Understanding these causes can help with tortuous colon treatment and improve your quality of life.
Here are some common factors contributing to the redundant colon:
- Aging: Muscles and tissues may lose tone and elasticity as the body ages. This can result in the elongation and twisting of the colon.
- Genetics: As with many other health conditions, hereditary factors may predispose some individuals to a longer colon.
- Chronic Constipation: Persistent constipation can lead to increased pressure in the colon. This increased pressure can cause the colon to stretch and switch over time.
- Dietary Factors: Diets low in dietary fiber and high in processed foods may slow bowel movement. This can lead to an increased risk of constipation which may eventually cause a redundant colon. Following a diet rich in probiotic foods may help reduce your symptoms associated with an elongated colon.
- Physical Abnormalities: A redundant colon may also be a congenital condition in some cases. Certain individuals may be born with an excessively long large intestine.
- Previous Surgeries: Any prior abdominal surgery can alter the anatomy of the colon, which may lead to elongation.
- Other Underlying Health Conditions: Gastrointestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colorectal tumors may also influence the shape and length of the colon. Diverticular disease has shown no relationship with a redundant colon.
Tortuous Colon Treatments
Treatment may not be necessary for asymptomatic patients. However, several treatment options are available if you experience discomfort or other issues. Treatments typically aim to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Here are some standard treatment options:
Dietary Adjustments And Lifestyle Changes
There are several ways to relieve symptoms of a tortuous colon, with diet being at the top of the list. Increasing fiber intake along with proper hydration can prompt regular bowel movements and prevent constipation, a common symptom of a redundant colon. Limit your intake of gas-producing vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc. However, problems with obstructions may require a low-fiber diet.
Processed and refined foods are among the tortuous colon foods to avoid because they increase the risk of constipation and bloating. Focus on superfoods and other fiber-rich options to reduce your symptoms.
Regular exercise can also stimulate bowel activity and reduce your chances of constipation. Aim for 30 minutes of light exercise daily to improve symptoms.
Since colon lengthening slows stool transit, over-the-counter laxatives can help. Prescription laxatives may also be an option for individuals with more severe cases of constipation. Still, long-term use of these medications can cause health concerns. Therefore, any laxative use should be discussed with your physician.
Antispasmodic medications may also be prescribed when pain is a significant concern. These medications can help reduce pain and cramping linked to the redundant colon.
Probiotics And Gut-Healing Foods
A diet high in gut-healing foods can help repair the gut lining, reduce inflammation, and enhance overall gut health. Combining a healthy diet with probiotics can restore a healthy gut flora balance. Some probiotic strains produce digestive enzymes that can assist in breaking down complex food. These enzymes facilitate more efficient digestion and reduce gas and bloating. Supplements containing beneficial bacteria can also help in balancing the gut flora.
In the most severe cases, surgery may be considered. Complicated instances in which a tortuous sigmoid colon is too long to fit into its owner’s body without undergoing reduplication may require surgery. Additionally, cases associated with acute and chronic pathological conditions, such as sigmoid volvulus or others associated with a bowel obstruction, typically require surgical intervention to correct the anatomy of your colon.
When You Need To See A Doctor
Many cases of a redundant colon do not present symptoms or require medical attention. Still, there are several instances where medical intervention is essential. Here are some signs it’s time to seek medical treatment:
- Persistent constipation.
- Severe abdominal pain.
- Blood in your stool.
- Unintended weight loss.
- Frequent nausea.
- Any symptom’s sudden and severe onset is a medical emergency, especially intense pain or bloating.
Although symptoms can be manageable, they might also indicate underlying complications and more severe gastrointestinal conditions.
The Bottom Line
Although often asymptomatic, an elongated colon can present symptoms ranging from constipation and bloating to abdominal pain and nausea. Complicated by aging and genetics, symptoms can be managed with dietary changes, medications, and even surgery.
Recognizing symptoms and seeking timely medical intervention ensure optimal gut health and quality of life improvement. Discuss your options with your physician to achieve digestive wellness that ensures comfort and overall health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Redundant colons aren’t typically serious, but symptoms can impact your quality of life. Consistent and severe pain and discomfort require medical intervention.
Avoid processed foods, high-fat items, gas-producing vegetables, and refined sugars if you have a redundant colon. Those who face possible obstructions will want to follow a low-fiber diet.
Yes. In severe cases, surgery can be considered to reduce the size of your abnormally long colon. However, it’s typically a last-resort treatment option.
Redundant colon can have a genetic predisposition, but environmental factors and lifestyle also play significant roles in its development.
An ICD-10 code for a redundant colon is not explicitly designated. Instead, it falls under general colon disorders or is symptom-based.
+ 8 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- Cuda, T., Gunnarsson, R. and Alan de Costa (2017). The correlation between diverticulosis and redundant colon. International Journal of Colorectal Disease, [online] 32(11), pp.1603–1607. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00384-017-2894-5.
- Cuda, T., Gunnarsson, R. and Alan de Costa (2018). Symptoms and diagnostic criteria of acquired Megacolon – a systematic literature review. BMC Gastroenterology, [online] 18(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12876-018-0753-7.
- Zarokosta, M., Theodoros Piperos, Menelaos Zoulamoglou, Theodoropoulos, P., Euthumios Nikou, Flessas, I., Boumpa, E., Vasileios Bonatsos, Noussios, G. and Theodoros Mariolis-Sapsakos (2018). Anomalous course of the sigmoid colon and the mesosigmoid encountered during colectomy. A case report of a redundant loop of sigmoid colon. International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, [online] 46, pp.20–23. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijscr.2018.02.041.
- Rochester.edu. (2023). Digestive Diagnostic Procedures – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center. [online] Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=85&ContentID=P00364
- Ccalliance.org. (2022). Double-Contrast Barium Enema | Colorectal Cancer Alliance. [online] Available at: https://www.ccalliance.org/screening-prevention/screening-methods/double-contrast-barium-enema
- Keller, K. and Engelhardt, M. (2014). Strength and muscle mass loss with aging process. Age and strength loss. Muscles, ligaments and tendons journal, [online] 3(4), pp.346–50. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940510/
- D Raahave (2018). Dolichocolon revisited: An inborn anatomic variant with redundancies causing constipation and volvulus. World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, [online] 10(2), pp.6–6. doi:https://doi.org/10.4240/wjgs.v10.i2.6.
- Watson, R.R. (2021). Accessing a Difficult Colon. Gastroenterology & hepatology, [online] 17(2), pp.79–81. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132721/