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Mesenteric ischemia occurs when one or more of your mesenteric arteries become obstructed. As a result of the obstruction, your intestines do not receive an adequate amount of oxygen, and therefore cannot function properly. Over time, tissue in your intestines can die due to inadequate blood flow. Mesenteric ischemia usually affects your small intestine, but can also impact other organs such as your stomach, colon or liver.
Acute mesenteric ischemia often occurs when a blood clot (embolus), which usually forms in the heart, travels into one of the mesenteric arteries and blocks the blood flow. People with an irregular heartbeat are at a higher risk for acute mesenteric ischemia.
Chronic mesenteric ischemia is commonly caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This occurs when a sticky substance, called plaque, builds up in your arteries and causes them to narrow and stiffen.
Other risk factors that contribute to mesenteric ischemia include:
There are two categories of mesenteric ischemia: acute and chronic. Acute mesenteric ischemia is when your symptoms start abruptly and become serious very quickly.
Symptoms of acute mesenteric ischemia include:
Chronic mesenteric ischemia results from slowly progressive blockages that have been present for a long period of time. Chronic mesenteric ischemia can become acute quickly and without warning.
Symptoms of chronic mesenteric ischemia include:
Since The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is an academic medical center, our patients benefit from innovative research, a depth of medical expertise and the newest technologies and treatment techniques available for cardiology.
At Ohio State, our vascular surgeons are experienced in diagnosing mesenteric ischemia, and in all forms of treatment for mesenteric ischemia, including minimally invasive angioplasty and stenting, and open surgical bypass for more complex cases.
If you have sudden severe abdominal pain, you may have acute mesenteric ischemia or other abdominal problems, and should go to an emergency room immediately.
If you are diagnosed with chronic mesenteric ischemia, you may need to undergo tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms to mesenteric ischemia. After performing an examination and discussing your symptoms, your physician may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
Mesenteric ischemia is a serious condition that can begin and progress quickly. The sooner you receive medical treatment, the better your outcome is likely to be. The goal of treatment is to restore adequate blood flow to your intestines through your mesenteric arteries.
Angioplasty and stenting is a minimally invasive procedure where your surgeon inflates a small balloon inside of your narrowed artery, causing the artery to expand. Once your artery expands, your surgeon inserts a stent (small, mesh tube) to support the artery walls so that they stay open to allow adequate blood flow.
If any part of your intestine has been damaged, you may need surgery to have the damaged sections surgically removed.
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