Mesenteric ischemia is poor circulation in the vessels supplying blood flow to your mesenteric organs: your stomach, liver, colon and intestine. With poor circulation, blockages can form and compromise the function of these organs. Mesenteric ischemia can come on suddenly or build slowly and become an ongoing health issue. It is part of a systemic disease process known as peripheral vascular disease or peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Symptoms can Include sudden or severe stomach pain, pain after eating, and weight loss.
ACUTE mesenteric ischemia is commonly caused by a blood clot, which travels to one of the mesenteric arteries and suddenly blocks blood flow. These clots often originate in the heart and are more common among patients with an irregular heartbeat or heart disease.
CHRONIC mesenteric ischemia is frequently due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which slows the amount of blood flowing through the arteries. An artery becomes blocked by plaque, which is formed by fats and other materials circulating in your blood. As more plaque builds up along the blood vessel wall, the artery can narrow and stiffen. Eventually, enough plaque builds up to reduce blood flow or even completely block the arteries.
If you have the symptoms outlined above, see a vascular surgeon. You will be asked about your history of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, and details about when and how often the symptoms occur and how long they last. The vascular surgeon will also perform a physical exam.