Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

What is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis?

The mesentery is a membrane that links the small intestine to the abdominal wall. When the lymph nodes in this membrane become inflamed, Mesenteric Lymphadenitis occurs. This condition most often arises due to a viral, bacterial or parasitic infection.

Norovirus and rotavirus are two common viruses that can cause this disorder. Staphylococcus, streptococcus and salmonella are three types of bacterial infections that can create inflammation. Various health conditions, such as lupus, Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, appendicitis and diverticulitis, are also connected to mesenteric lymphadenitis. Although not as common, inflammation in the mesentery lymph nodes can materialize due to various types of cancer including pancreatic cancer, gastrointestinal cancer and lymphoma.

What are the Symptoms of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis?

Pain and tenderness in the abdomen is a common symptom of mesenteric lymphadenitis. The pain is often centered in the lower portion of the right side of the abdomen. A high fever often accompanies the abdominal pain.

Other frequent symptoms include feeling tired, having no energy, upset stomach, vomiting, no appetite and diarrhea. If the abdominal pain becomes excessive, individuals should contact a physician as soon as possible. Continual weight loss and sleeplessness due to abdominal pain are additional symptoms that signal a doctor visit is necessary.

Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Causes

Mesenteric lymphadenitis can be caused by a number of different infections, conditions and diseases. In some cases, the cause can’t be determined by doctors. Most commonly, it is a viral infection that causes it to develop. There are also inflammatory diseases that can cause it. In rare cases, certain cancers can result in this condition. The cancers that can cause mesenteric lymphadenitis include breast cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer and pancreatic cancer.

A number of infections can cause this condition, and both local infections and systemic, body-wide infections can trigger it to develop. Infections that can cause this condition include parasitic, viral and bacterial infections. Some of the most common infections that result in this condition include Yersinia enterocolitica, HIV, tuberculosis, acute terminal ileitis and gastroenteritis. Mesenteric lymphadenitis can also be caused by a number of inflammatory conditions. Some of the most common of these include appendicitis, connective tissue diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, pancreatitis and diverticulitis.

How is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Treated?

Most of the time, medical treatment is not needed for this condition, as it will eventually get better.

Treatments include

Individuals can take over the counter pain medications to help with the pain and to control a fever. Placing a warm heating pad on the abdomen may also help alleviate the pain. Diarrhea, vomiting and a fever can all lead to dehydration, so it is important to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day.

If the mesenteric lymphadenitis is caused by a bacterial infection, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic medication. Blood tests may be ordered to discover the specific type of infection.

Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Prevention

In some cases, it isn’t possible to prevent the development of mesenteric lymphadenitis. However, because so many cases of this condition begin with an infection, there are ways to prevent many of those infections. Using good hygiene and washing hands often is a good way to prevent many infections. Stay away from people who are sick with infections. It’s especially important to stay away from those who have a stomach flu, as this is a known cause of mesenteric lymphadenitis.

For infections that can come through food and drink, certain precautions should be taken. Yersinia bacteria can be passed through liquids such as water that has been contaminated and unpasteurized milk. When drinking water or milk, make sure it has been cleaned properly. Be sure to cook foods, especially raw meats, thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may have contaminated it.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
March 07, 2018