Mesenteric ischemia is the damage to the tissue
of the intestine caused by acute or sudden as well as chronic
lack of blood supply to the specific area. It can be though of
as the intestinal equivalence of a heart attack, caused by blood
clots in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
This condition is also known as vascular or
menteric bowel disorder.
Symptoms of Mesenteric Ischemia
The symptoms of acute mesenteric ischemia are:
- Severe pain and cramps in the abdomen
- Blood in the stool
- Nausea and vomiting
The symptoms of chronic mesenteric ischemia are:
- Chronic pain in the abdomen after eating
- Weight loss
- Fear of eating, because of the associated pain after eating
Your doctor may order the following tests to diagnose mesenteric
- Physical examination
Inflammation of the bowel or diffuse peritonitis can cause extreme
tenderness of the abdomen.
- Blood pressure inspection
Low and unstable blood pressure is a medical emergency and is
indicative of shock due to this condition.
- Blood test
Abnormal metabolic levels are present in patients with mesenteric
This test can reveal clot or blockage in the arteries.
- X-ray and CT scan
Tissue damage due to lack of blood flow to the abdomen is revealed
by these tests.
Causes of Mesenteric Ischemia
Mesenteric ischemia is caused by intestinal tissue damage due
to lack of blood supply to the area. Blood flow is interrupted
by plaques or clots that form in the arteries – which may
cause an acute or sudden and severe loss of flow, or a chronic
condition where the blood flow is severely reduced.
The process of plaque or clot
formation, called artherosclerosis,
is quite complex and involves many factors including genetics,
diets, cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
Treatment of Mesenteric Ischemia
The treatments for this condition include:
If the angiogram shows a specific clot or blockage, then an
emergency surgery may be required. Surgery may also be necessary
if significant tissue d
amage has already occurred.
A baloon is threaded through the artery and is inflated at the
location of the blockage to restore blood flow.
- Vasodilator medication
Medicines that dilate the arteries, such as papaverine, is given
intravenously to open the clot.
As with heart attack, immediate treatment of menteric ischemia
is very important – call your doctor or go to the emergency
room immediately if you suspect that you have this condition.