Mesenteric ischemia is a severe medical condition caused by narrowed or blocked arteries that restrict blood flow to the small intestine. This can lead to permanent damage of the small intestine due to insufficient blood supply. Mesenteric ischemia is a rare condition that primarily affects older people, particularly those with underlying cardiovascular disease or blood clotting disorders. The blockage of the vessels supplying blood to the affected area is the primary cause of mesenteric ischemia, which can lead to serious health complications.
There are two types of mesenteric ischemia:
- Acute mesenteric ischemia: Acute mesenteric ischemia can occur similarly to how major artery blockages frequently cause heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical conditions. Blood clots are typically the cause, since they produce rapid, acute symptoms. This situation needs immediate medical attention.
- Chronic mesenteric ischemia: The cause of chronic mesenteric ischemia is often the beginning of mesenteric artery narrowing. This condition takes longer to develop, and the signs and symptoms typically get worse with time.
When blood flow to organs and tissues is insufficient, they cannot function properly due to a lack of oxygen. If the blockage is severe enough, the affected organs and tissues may collapse. It is important to receive prompt diagnosis and treatment for this condition because it often results in death. In cases where a blood clot suddenly blocks the blood supply to the small intestine (acute mesenteric ischemia), immediate surgery is necessary. Treatment options for chronic mesenteric ischemia include open surgery or angioplasty.
- Acute mesenteric ischemia: The signs and symptoms include the following:
- Sudden severe abdominal pain
- Sudden urge for bowel movement
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal bloating
- Chronic mesenteric ischemia: The signs and symptoms include the following:
- Abdominal pain after 30 minutes to 1 hour after meal
- Food fear
- Pain worsens after an hour
- Changes in bowel movement
In case of experiencing severe and sudden abdominal pain that persists, it is advised to seek emergency medical care. If the pain develops after eating, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a doctor.
The different types of mesenteric ischemia are caused by the reduction of blood flow to the small intestine.
- Acute mesenteric ischemia: The arteries may accumulate a waxy material called plaque, which causes the arteries to stiffen. Atherosclerosis is a disorder that frequently coexists with cardiovascular disease. Blood clots may occur if a plaque patch breaks open.
- Chronic mesenteric ischemia: Circulatory conditions that cause blood vessels to constrict frequently result in chronic mesenteric ischemia. The mesentery’s blood flow gradually decreases as a result of this restriction, or stenosis.
As people get older, mesenteric ischemia occurs more frequently. It commonly occurs together with cardiac and circulation issues, especially those that might result in blood clots. Tobacco use increases the risk as this also correlate with other cardiac and circulation condition.