Mesenteric artery ischemia


Mesenteric artery ischemia is a type of peripheral vascular disease. Your mesenteric arteries are those that supply blood to your small and large intestines. When these arteries become narrowed or blocked (atherosclerosis), your intestines may not function as they should. Sometimes mesenteric artery ischemia also may affect your colon, liver and stomach.

Mesenteric artery ischemia can be acute, which means it comes on suddenly. Chronic mesenteric artery ischemia means that it is long-term.



Acute mesenteric artery ischemia is typically caused by a blood clot and requires emergency treatment. Chronic mesenteric artery is typically caused by narrowing of the artery, usually because of hardening of the arteries elsewhere. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation also may contribute to mesenteric artery ischemia.


Chronic mesenteric artery ischemia symptoms are:

  • Abdominal pain after eating
  • Diarrhea

Acute mesenteric artery ischemia symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Higher than normal white blood cell count
  • Changes in the blood acid level
  • Bleeding in the GI tract.


  • Doppler ultrasound or CT scan to examine the blood vessels and the intestine
  • Mesenteric angiogram, which includes injecting a dye into your bloodstream to help view the intestinal arteries
  • X-rays to see the location of the blockage in the artery


Our vascular specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating mesenteric artery ischemia. They will work closely with you to determine the most appropriate treatment, which may include:

  • Medicines: Drugs called vasodilators to dissolve blood clots and widen the mesenteric arteries.
  • Angioplasty: This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a surgeon threads a balloon-tipped tube through arteries until it reaches the one that is blocked. The surgeon inflates the balloon, which compresses the plaque in the artery and widens the vessel.
  • Stenting: This is also minimally invasive and may be done at the same time as angioplasty. A stent is a small metal-mesh tube that a surgeon inserts through a catheter to prop open an artery or deliver medicine to the area.
  • Bypass surgery: This procedure creates a new pathway through which blood can flow, by inserting a plastic tube graft to bypass a blocked area in your vein or artery.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be required for chronic mesenteric artery ischemia involves removing the blockage and reconnecting the arteries to the aorta.

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