Semin intervent Radiol 2009; 26(3): 175-183
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1225662
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Mesenteric Ischemia

T. Gregory Walker1
  • 1Section of Cardiovascular Imaging and Intervention, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
12 August 2009 (online)


Mesenteric ischemia is classified as either acute or chronic. The former is a life-threatening emergency in which a sudden reduction in intestinal blood flow may ultimately result in bowel infarction. The most common causes are arterial embolism, arterial thrombosis, nonocclusive mesenteric ischemia, and mesenteric venous thrombosis. A high index of suspicion, early diagnosis and rapid intervention are necessary so that normal mesenteric perfusion is restored before fatal bowel infarction can occur. Chronic mesenteric ischemia is usually caused by stenotic or occlusive disease involving the proximal segments of the mesenteric arterial supply to the bowel, usually as a result of atherosclerosis. Intestinal angina is the classic presentation, defined as recurrent postprandial abdominal pain that subsides in 1 to 2 hours, with associated weight loss and aversion to food. When combined with the clinical presentation, physical examination, and laboratory data, imaging plays a key role in the diagnosis of either acute or chronic mesenteric ischemia. Recognition of pertinent imaging findings and various treatment options may aid in preventing the serious and possibly fatal sequelae that may occur in cases of mesenteric ischemia.


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T. Gregory WalkerM.D. 

Section of Cardiovascular Imaging and Intervention, Massachusetts General Hospital

55 Fruit Street, GRB 290A, Boston, MA 02114