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MESENTERIC ISCHEMIA

 

Mesenteric ischemia is a condition which is caused due to poor blood supply to the intestines present in the body. It usually affects the small intestine and colon; however it may also affect any organ in the body. This condition is considered to be a life-threatening problem and therefore immediate medical attention should be provided to the patient suffering with mesenteric ischemia.

Mesenteric ischemia may be either acute or chronic. Acute mesenteric ischemia may develop suddenly due to the poor flow of oxygen-rich blood and this may cause permanent damage to the intestines. Chronic mesenteric ischemia occurs gradually by narrowing the blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to the intestine. The person suffering with this condition may experience sudden pain in the abdomen, bloody stools and fecal incontinence.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The common signs and symptoms of mesenteric ischemia are:

  • Severe pain n the abdomen
  • Pain that lasts for 60 to 90 minutes and then disappears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence

CAUSES

The mesenteric arteries supply blood to the small and large intestines of the body. Ischemia occurs when the blood flow to the arteries narrows down and gets blocked and the intestines do not get the required amount of oxygen for the digestion process to take place. Mesenteric ischemia occurs when more than one artery gets blocked and there is a reduced blood flow to the intestines. It may result in the death of the intestinal tissues. People suffering with mesenteric ischemia may experience severe abdominal pain.

People suffering with chronic mesenteric ischemia may experience the symptoms over a long period of time along with weight loss and acute mesenteric ischemia is a condition in which the symptoms begin abruptly and then become serious after a short period of time.

DIAGNOSIS

The following are the tests performed to diagnose ischemic colitis in a person.

  • Medical examination is performed by the doctor to make a note of all the changes and the complaints of the patient. The doctor may also ask for the complete medical history of the patient.

 

  • Ultrasound and abdominal CT scan are performed in a patient suffering from mesenteric ischemia to get a clear view of the images of body structures and organs.
  • CT or MRI angiography is performed to get an image of the blood flow in the intestine and also to check for the arteries which are blocked.
  • Blood test is also performed to check the white blood cells count as high white blood cell count may indicate the presence of an infection in the body.
  • Angiogram is an x-ray test which uses a dye and a camera to take images of the blood flow in the arteries and veins. This test is performed to check the flow of blood in the arteries and veins present in the body. 

TREATMENT

The treatment may be performed as an emergency or as a scheduled procedure based on the severity of the condition. The goal of the treatment is to provide adequate blood flow to the intestine before any further complications take place or before any damage occurs to the bowel.

Medications such as blood thinners (heparin or warfarin) are used to prevent blood clots in the arteries. Vasodilator drugs are also given to increase the width of the blood vessels to improve the blood flow. Antibiotics are given in case an infection develops in the intestinal arteries. With the help of all these medications mesenteric ischemic condition can be treated.

Chronic mesenteric ischemia

  • Bypass surgery
  • Angioplasty and stenting
  • Trans-aortic endarterectomy

Acute mesenteric ischemia

This condition needs to be treated immediately on emergency basis and therefore a vascular surgeon may perform an operation to remove the clot from the artery to improve the blood flow to the intestines. The surgeon may decide the type of procedure based on the condition, age and other factors involved in the surgery.

PREVENTION

The preventive measures for mesenteric ischemic condition include:

  • Follow a healthy diet with food rich in fiber
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep yourself calm
  • Follow relaxation and breathing exercise  
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