Mesenteric Ischemia – Symptoms & Tests | MedStar Health

Reduced blood flow to the intestines

Three mesenteric arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the large and small intestines. Mesenteric artery disease occurs when blood flow is constricted or blocked in one of those arteries.

There are two types of mesenteric artery disease. Acute mesenteric ischemia is caused by a sudden blockage and requires immediate surgical intervention. Chronic mesenteric artery ischemia is often caused by plaque buildup in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis.

Our vascular and endovascular program offers innovative procedures to treat vascular conditions such as mesenteric artery disease. Our surgeons have experience in the latest minimally invasive techniques to remove or bypass the blockage in the mesenteric artery

What are the risk factors and symptoms of mesenteric artery disease?

Mesenteric artery disease is often present with heart conditions such as carotid artery disease or heart disease. Your risk of developing mesenteric artery disease may also be increased if you smoke, have high blood pressure or have high cholesterol.

Symptoms of mesenteric artery disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Severe abdominal pain, sometimes with eating
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss


Diagnosing mesenteric artery disease is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.

Abdominal duplex ultrasound

Abdominal duplex ultrasound is a combination of a traditional and Doppler ultrasound that assesses the blood vessels in your abdomen for blockages or aneurysms.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.


Our vascular teams work together and with other specialties to develop and implement individualized plans to treat a wide variety of conditions. This could include medication or more advanced treatments.

Mesenteric artery bypass

Mesenteric artery bypass improves blood flow to the intestines by creating an alternate route around a narrow or blocked portion of the artery.

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