PURPOSE: The standard treatment for sigmoid volvulus has been considered as a resection of involved segment after nonoperative decompression. This study was performed to investigate the clinical characteristics and compare the results of managements in patients with sigmoid volvulus. METHODS: We recruited twelve patients with sigmoid volvulus registered and treated at Asan Medical Center during 1989 and 1999. The medical records were reviewed retrospectively. Telephone inerviews were performed to inquire recent status. We analyzed clinical variables including symptoms on admission, physical findings, findings of radiologic studies, managements and their outcomes. The median age was 64 years (range:45 to 84 years). The median follow-up period was 46 months (range:2 to 94). RESULTS: Nine patients among twelve were male. Presenting symptoms were abdominal pain (92%), abdominal distension (67%), constipation (50%) and hematochezia. The diagnostic modalities utilized included plain film of the abdomen, CT scan and sigmoidoscopy. Nine cases (75%) were correctly diagnosed prior to operation, of which eight (67%) were diagnosed by plain film. The remaining three cases were by operation. In these cases, preoperative diagnoses were ischemic colitis and obstruction due to colonic malignancy. In seven cases, only nonoperative managements were employed. Nonoperative management included decompression by nasogastric tube or rectal tube insertion and use of bulk forming agents and stool softner afterwards to improve bowel habits. Five patients underwent anterior resection. We couldn't perform surgery in seven cases because of high operative risk due to underlying serious medical conditions such as bronchial asthma, malignancies and refusal by the patients after clinical improvement in 4 and 3cases, respectively. Three of them were died of underlying disease or sepsis. Recurrence occurred in two patients (50%) who underwent nonoperative management only and none in patients who underwent surgical intervention. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with sigmoid volvulus, elective surgery after appropriate nonoperative management is mandatory to prevent recurrence and fatal outcome, especially in good surgical risk patients. Considerable patients, however, did not undergo surgery due to poor physical status or refusal of surgery.