Overview of Mesenteric Vascular Ischemia - Occlusion
Mesenteric artery ischemia is a narrowing or blockage of one or more of the three mesenteric arteries, which are the major arteries supplying the small and large intestines.
Causes of Mesenteric Vascular Ischemia - Occlusion
Narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the intestine causes mesenteric ischemia. These arteries arise directly from the aorta, which is the main artery from the heart that supplies oxygenated blood to the entire body. This problem is often seen in patients with atherosclerotic arterial disease ("hardening of the arteries") elsewhere, such as patients with coronary (heart) artery disease, or peripheral vascular disease. It is more common in smokers and in patients with elevated serum cholesterol levels. Alternatively, mesenteric ischemia can be caused by a blood clot (embolus), which travels through the bloodstream and suddenly blocks one of the mesenteric arteries. The source of these clots is usually the heart or the aorta. Such an embolus is seen more commonly in patients with heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, which predisposes patients to formation of clots within the chambers of the heart. With the beating of the heart, these clots break loose and can travel to the arteries of the intestine.
Signs and Symptoms of Mesenteric Vascular Ischemia - Occlusion
Chronic mesenteric ischemia caused by atherosclerosis is commonly associated with chronic abdominal pain after eating, and occasionally, diarrhea. Acute mesenteric ischemia due to an embolus is frequently associated with sudden onset severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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