What is it?
Three arteries supply blood to the intestines. If two or more of them are severely blocked, patients may experience significant pain after eating. This pain can become so severe that the patients are afraid to eat and in some cases begin to lose weight. (The mesentery is a membrane that attaches the intestines to the back wall of the abdomen.)
The blockage in the arteries can be diagnosed with an ultrasound, CT scan or angiogram.
How is it done?
Depending on the degree of blockage and the overall health of the patient, there are two treatment options: placing a stent or open surgical bypass. Either procedure can improve blood flow to the intestine and improve abdominal pain.
Mesenteric artery stenting
This stenting procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic. A catheter is placed through a small puncture site in either the groin or the arm. Through this, a catheter and wire are inserted into the artery and advanced to the intestine. A stent (a small wire mesh tube) is then placed to hold the artery open. In general, patients are admitted to the hospital for a few days following the procedure.
Mesenteric artery bypass
Some patients may benefit from a bypass constructed to the artery that supports the intestine. A small vein from the leg or a piece of plastic tubing can be used for the bypass. The procedure requires a general anesthetic, and is performed through an incision on the abdomen. The bypass creates a detour around the blockage, bringing blood flow to the intestine. Patients can expect a stay in the hospital for approximately a week after the surgery.