Whirlpool sign

The whirlpool sign, also known as the whirl sign, is seen when a structure twists upon itself. It is most commonly described in the abdomen where bowel rotates around its mesentery, with mesenteric vessels creating the whirls. It can also be seen in ovarian torsion.

Whirlpool sign: mesenteric

It is seen in a number of settings:

Malrotation and midgut volvulus

It represents the swirling appearance of the mesentery and superior mesenteric vein around the superior mesenteric artery. The direction of swirl is clockwise on ultrasound (viewed from above so-to-speak) and counter-clockwise on CT (as if viewed from below).

It is the corollary of the corkscrew sign seen on barium studies.

Caecal volvulus

Caecal volvulus can have the same appearance, with whirl occurring in the caecal mesentery.

Whirlpool sign: ovarian

Whirlpool sign of a twisted ovarian pedicle has been described as an US or CT sign of ovarian torsion 7.

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Article information

rID: 8491
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Whirl sign
  • Whirl sign - general

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: whirlpool image
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    Midgut volvulus
    Case 1: midgut volvulus
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    Midgut volvulus

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    Case 2: midgut volvulus
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    CT demonstrates a...
    Case 3: midgut volvulus
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    The axial CT-slic...
    Case 4: caecal volvulus
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    Axial CT in arter...
    Case 5: midgut volvulus
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    Case 6
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    Case 7: sigmoid volvulus
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    Case 8: ovarian torsion
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    Case 9
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    Case 10
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    Case 11: sigmoid volvulus
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    Case 12: on colour Doppler ultrasound
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    Case 13
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    Case 14: caecal volvulus
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    Case 15
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