Mesenteric ischemia can come on suddenly or develop over time. Find out more about this condition that restricts blood flow to the small intestine.
Mesenteric ischemia (mez-un-TER-ik is-KEE-me-uh) occurs when narrowed or blocked arteries restrict blood flow to your small intestine. Decreased blood flow can permanently damage the small intestine.
Sudden loss of blood flow to the small intestine (acute mesenteric ischemia) from a blood clot requires immediate surgery. Mesenteric ischemia that develops over time (chronic) is treated with angioplasty or open surgery.
Untreated, chronic mesenteric ischemia can become acute or lead to severe weight loss and malnutrition.
Signs and symptoms of the acute form of mesenteric ischemia include:
Signs and symptoms of the chronic form of mesenteric ischemia include:
If you have severe, abrupt abdominal pain that persists, seek emergency medical care. If you develop pain after eating, make an appointment with your doctor.
Both acute and chronic mesenteric ischemia are caused by a decrease in blood flow to the small intestine. Acute mesenteric ischemia is most commonly caused by a blood clot in the main mesenteric artery. The blood clot often originates in the heart. The chronic form is most commonly caused by a buildup of plaque that narrows the arteries.
If not treated promptly, acute mesenteric ischemia can lead to:
People with chronic mesenteric ischemia can develop:
Your doctor might suspect that you have chronic mesenteric ischemia if you have pain after eating that causes you to limit food and lose weight. A narrowing of the major arteries to the small intestine can help confirm the diagnosis.
Tests might include:
If a blood clot causes a sudden loss of blood flow to the small intestine, you might require immediate surgery to treat your mesenteric ischemia. Mesenteric ischemia that develops over time might be treated with a procedure that uses a balloon to open the narrowed area.
A mesh tube (stent) might be placed in the narrowed area. Mesenteric ischemia can also be treated via open surgery through an incision.
June 22nd, 2021