Identifying intestinal malrotation on magnetic resonance examinations ordered for unrelated indications

Jill S. Fay, Victoria Chernyak, Benjamin H. Taragin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Anatomical imaging findings indicating normal bowel rotation can be identified on cross-sectional imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed for non-related indications. Objective: The goal of our study was to assess whether non-targeted MRI can accurately assess intestinal malrotation. Materials and methods: Four anatomical landmarks were assessed on MRIs of the chest, spine or abdomen performed from January 2006 to June 2014, on patients who also had upper gastrointestinal series (UGI) performed within 10 years of the MRI date: 1) retroperitoneal duodenum, 2) left upper quadrant duodenojejunal junction, 3) superior mesenteric artery to the left of the superior mesenteric vein, and 4) right lower quadrant cecum. Two attending radiologists, one pediatric and one abdominal radiologist, independently reviewed the MR images. The pediatric radiologist reviewed images from UGI (considered the gold standard) to determine the intestinal rotation for each case. Validation of the criteria was performed on new patients imaged through January 2016. Results: The original cohort included 109 MRIs (15 chest, 41 spine and 53 abdomen) done on 109 patients (42% males, mean age: 10.2 years). If each of the 4 anatomical questions were answered “yes” (4-YES), specificity was 100% for each radiologist and malrotation was appropriately excluded. Using the 4-YES criteria, the pediatric radiologist excluded malrotation in 71 patients (65%) and the abdominal radiologist excluded it in 65 (60%), with concurrence for 57 patients. Validation of the 4-YES criteria in 23 new patients appropriately proved the 4-YES rule, with neither labeling the one new malrotation case 4-YES. Conclusion: If a radiologist can confidently answer “yes” to the four questions evaluated in this study, then intestinal rotation can be safely considered normal. Normal bowel rotation should be commented upon in MRI reports when these four anatomical locations are imaged, thus helping patients avoid unnecessary UGI and radiation exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1477-1482
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Children
  • Duodenum
  • Intestine
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Malrotation
  • Upper gastrointestinal series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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