Mesenteric Artery Disease

Narrowing of the arteries (blood vessels) that supply the body’s stomach and intestines

There are two types

  • Acute mesenteric ischemia-Sudden block typically caused by a clot and can be immediately life-threatening.
  • Chronic mesenteric ischemia-Related to atherosclerosis with a slower onset over many years.

Three main arteries that supply blood to your small and large intestine known as the Coeliac trunk; Superior Mesenteric Artery and the Inferior Mesenteric artery.

Causes of Mesenteric Artery Ischemia?

  • ACUTE – blood clot suddenly blocks blood flow.  These clots often originate in the heart and are more common among patients with an irregular heartbeat or heart disease.
  • CHRONIC-  atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) slows the amount of blood flowing


Acute – Sudden severe abdominal pain

CHRONIC- severe stomach pain 15–60 minutes after eating. Pain may last for as long as 2 hours and Recur with every meal Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or flatulence.Fear of food (Food fright) may develop due to pain. Unintentional Weight Loss


A computed tomography (CT) scan is the test of choice. A CT Angiogram creates detailed three-dimensional images of cross-sections of your body. These images can identify problems with your arteries or with your abdominal organs.


The goal of treatment -to re-open the artery to allow adequate blood flow to your intestine so it will work properly. Must be accomplished before permanent damage is done.

In Acute Cases
  • Usually an emergency procedure since severe intestinal damage can occur rapidly.
  • Open surgery- to remove clot and look for damage to the intestines and assess its viability
  • Clot aspiration- new minimally invasive modality where clot is sucked out using negative pressure
  • Thrombolytic therapy- to dissolve the clot , strong blood thinners given directly into the artery during an angiogram
In Chronic Cases
  • Minimally invasive endovascular treatment
  • first-line approach in most instances
  • Balloon angioplasty and stenting
  • Bypass surgery- creates a detour around the narrowed or blocked section of the affected artery. To create the detour, one of your veins or a synthetic tube is used as a graft, sewn-in above and below the blocked area to restore adequate blood flow to your intestines.

Staying Healthy

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Manage chronic medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure and heart disease.