Mesenteric Intestinal Ischemia
What is Mesenteric Intestinal Ischemia?
The mesenteric arteries supply blood to the large and small intestines. Mesenteric ischemia occurs when the blood cannot flow through one or more of these arteries as well as it should due to narrowing or blockage, and the intestines don’t receive the necessary oxygen to perform normally.
Mesenteric ischemia can be either chronic or acute. Chronic means that someone has had the condition and symptoms over a relatively long period of time. Acute means that the symptoms start abruptly and become very serious in a short period of time. Chronic mesenteric ischemia can progress without warning to acute mesenteric ischemia, sometimes very quickly.
Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries and slows the amount of blood flowing through the arteries. Mesenteric ischemia is frequently caused by atherosclerosis.
Factors that may increase your chance of getting mesenteric ischemia include:
- Age 60 or older
- High cholesterol
- Low blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
- Aortic dissection
- Coagulation disorders
Signs and symptoms of mesenteric ischemia may include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Diagnosis & Treatment
To determine if someone has mesenteric ischemia, a health care provider will ask questions about general health, medical history and symptoms. Then they will perform a physical exam, specifically listening for sounds of blow flow in the carotid arteries. Blood pressure will be taken. If your health care provider suspects mesenteric ischemia, further diagnostic testing will be recommended to evaluate the bowel and circulation.
The following procedures are offered at St. Elizabeth's Interventional Peripheral Vascular Lab for the treatment of mesenteric ischemia depending on a patient’s diagnosis:
- Catheter-based embolectomy/thrombectomy/thrombolysis. A series of terms used to describe the catheter-based removal of blood clots from vessels in either arteries or veins. The procedure(s) involve placing a catheter near or in the blood clot and actively removing it with suction/aspiration.
- Catheter-based Revascularization. These procedures involve a thin tube called a catheter, which is inserted into an artery. These procedures include:
- Balloon angioplasty. A balloon-tipped catheter is used to press plaque against the wall of the artery. This increases the amount of space for the blood to flow.
- Stenting. Usually done after angioplasty. A wire mesh tube is placed in a damaged artery. It will support the wall of the artery and keep it open.
- Atherectomy. Instruments are inserted via catheter. They are used to cut away and remove plaque so that blood can flow more easily.
You can reduce some of your risk factors for developing atherosclerosis by following these recommendations:
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Begin a safe exercise program with the advice of your doctor.
- Seek treatment for high blood pressure, syphilis and other infections.