Mesenteric artery ischemia occurs when there is a narrowing or blockage of one or more of the three mesenteric arteries, the major arteries that supply the small and large intestines.
Symptoms of long-term (chronic) mesenteric artery ischemia caused by hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis:
- Abdominal pain after eating
Symptoms of sudden (acute) mesenteric artery ischemia due to a traveling blood clot:
- Sudden severe abdominal pain
Mesenteric artery ischemia is often seen in people who have hardening of the arteries in other parts of the body (for example, those with coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease). The condition is more common in smokers and in patients with high blood pressure or blood cholesterol.
Acute mesenteric artery ischemia is an emergency. Surgery is usually performed to remove the clot. In some cases, the surgeon must also create a bypass around the blockage.
Surgery for chronic mesenteric artery ischemia involves removing the blockage and reconnecting the arteries to the aorta. A bypass around the blockage is another procedure. It is usually done with a plastic tube graft.
An alternative to surgery is a stent. It may be inserted to enlarge the blockage of the mesenteric artery.