Mesenteric Ischemia

What is Mesenteric Ischemia?

When something blocks the blood flow to part of the intestines, the resulting condition is known as Mesenteric Ischemia. It most commonly occurs as an acute attack brought on by a blood clot or a twist in the intestines, but chronic conditions also exist that are linked to blockages in the arteries passing through the abdomen.

Both acute and chronic types can result in life-threatening gangrene when the tissue that is cut off from the blood supply dies and begins to break down inside the body.

What are the Symptoms of Mesenteric Ischemia?

Severe pain in the abdomen is the main sign of mesenteric ischemia, especially following gastrointestinal surgery or an injury in that area. Chronic cases tend to cause recurring diarrhea, but it’s also linked to acute outbreaks as well.

Vomiting is more common in acute cases because of the sudden shock to the digestive system when part of the intestine shuts down. Some patients experience no pain or other symptoms at all until passing out from the shock of internal gangrene, but this is rare.

How is Mesenteric Ischemia Treated?

Controlling chronic and acute cases triggered by hardened arteries requires the same lifestyle changes you would make for other forms of atherosclerosis or to prevent heart disease.

Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, controlling your blood sugar, and lowering your cholesterol levels and blood pressure all go a long way in maintaining healthy blood flow. If the problem is caused by blood clots, you may need surgery to remove the clot or medication to prevent future issues.

Surgery is usually only necessary once gangrene has set in and certain parts of the intestine must be removed. Antibiotics are also essential in these cases to prevent septicemia.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017
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