Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Mesenteric ischaemia results from decreased blood flow to the bowel, causing cellular injury from lack of oxygen and nutrients. Acute mesenteric ischaemia (AMI) is an uncommon disorder with high morbidity and mortality, but outcomes are improved with prompt recognition and aggressive treatment. Five subgroups of AMI have been identified, with superior mesenteric artery embolism (SMAE) the most common. Older age and cardiovascular disease are common risk factors for AMI, excepting acute mesenteric venous thrombosis (AMVT), which affects younger patients with hypercoaguable states. AMI is characterized by sudden onset of abdominal pain; a benign abdominal exam may be observed prior to bowel infarction. Conventional angiography and more recently, computed tomography angiography, are the cornerstones of diagnosis. Correction of predisposing conditions, volume resuscitation and antibiotic treatment are standard treatments for AMI, and surgery is mandated in the setting of peritoneal signs. Intra-arterial vasodilators are used routinely in the treatment of non-occlusive mesenteric ischaemia (NOMI) and also are advocated in the treatment of occlusive AMI to decrease associated vasospasm. Thrombolytics have been used on a limited basis to treat occlusive AMI. A variety of agents have been studied in animal models to treat reperfusion injury, which sometimes can be more harmful than ischaemic injury. Chronic mesenteric ischaemia (CMI) usually is caused by severe obstructive atherosclerotic disease of two or more splanchnic vessels, presents with post-prandial pain and weight loss, and is treated by either surgical revascularization or percutaneous angioplasty and stenting.
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