Acute Mesenteric Ischemia

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Commonality is rare
CriticalCare = Yes
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 Acute Mesenteric Ischemia

 

Acute mesenteric ischemia is the sudden disruption of blood flow to the small intestines.

 

Causes

In many cases, acute mesenteric ischemia is caused by blockage of the arteries, either due to a blood clot, or the accumulation of plaque and fatty deposits.

In other cases, however, it can be caused simply by weakened heart function, decreasing the supply of blood to organs; or by drug-induced constriction of blood vessels.

Generally, adults over the age of 50 years are at greatest risk of acute mesenteric ischemia.

 

Disease pathway

If left unchecked for longer than ten hours, insufficient oxygen and nutrient supply from the blood may cause necrosis of the affected region, enabling infection by intestinal bacteria. This can, in turn, lead to shock, organ failure and ultimately, death.

 

Symptoms and diagnosis

Initially, the patient will suffer severe abdominal pain, which abates somewhat when pressure is applied. This disproportionality is a vital characteristic of acute mesenteric ischemia for doctors diagnosing the condition.

Diagnosis can be confirmed by assessing oxygen delivery to the colon, using visible light spectroscopy techniques.

 

Treatment

If diagnosis is made and treatment commenced in the early stages of acute mesenteric ischemia, patients are likely to recover well. The likelihood of death due to the condition is proportional to the extent of necrosis in the intestine.

Depending on the cause of the blockage, drugs, surgery, or a combination of both can be used to restore normal blood flow to the intestine.


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