Steelpan sign (sigmoid volvulus)

Last revised by Yaïr Glick on 16 Apr 2024

The steelpan sign refers to the close resemblance of sigmoid volvulus on CT to the percussion instrument known as the steelpan. The steelpan, also known as steel drum or pan, is a Caribbean musical instrument invented in Trinidad and Tobago by the mid-1930s, which became very popular in Trinidadian carnival festivities. The American soldiers established in Trinidad during the 2nd World War helped in the international popularization of this instrument. 

The appearance of the haustral folds arranged in a circular pattern in the cases of sigmoid volvulus seen in the CT imaging resembles this national musical instrument from Trinidad and Tobago. The steelpan sign is easy to recognize on CT scans of the abdomen and occasionally on plain abdominal X-rays, improving diagnostic confidence in detecting sigmoid volvulus. 

Yards Singh et al. were the first who described this sign in a paper written in 2017 1.

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