Mesenteric Artery Disease

What is 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 intestineknown as the Coeliac trunk; Superior Mesenteric Artery and the Inferior Mesenteric artery.

What Are the Causes of Mesenteric Artery Ischemia?

ACUTE – blood clotsuddenly 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

What are the Symptoms?

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

How is a Diagnosis made?

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

How is this Treated?

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.


  1. Usually an emergency procedure since severe intestinal damage can occur rapidly.
  2. Open surgery- to remove clot and look for damage to the intestines and assess its viability
  3. Clot aspiration- new minimally invasive modality where clot is sucked out using negative pressure
  4. Thrombolytic therapy- to dissolve the clot , strong blood thinners given directly into the artery during an angiogram


  • 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

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