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Intestinal Ischemia

more about Intestinal Ischemia

Acute intestinal ischemia


  • The superior mesenteric artery, a large vessel that branches off the aorta, supplies the intestine with blood. When a blood clot lodges in this artery or its branches, it cuts off the blood supply to part of the intestine. This is known as Intestinal Ischemia. When this occurs, the intestine may infarct (die).

  • Crampy or steady upper abdominal pain

  • Embolic -- blood clots are thrown from the heart due to heart valve disease or atrial fibrillation
  • Thrombosis -- blood clots form in the blood vessels
  • Vascular insufficiency -- insufficient blood is being pumped to the arteries of the intestine. This can occur in patients with Congestive Heart Failure recently started on Digoxin.

  • Minimal or no tenderness on abdominal exam
  • Classically, pain is out of proportion to the exam
  • Low Blood Pressure may be present
  • Laboratory:
    1. Elevated white blood cell count
    2. Arterial Lactic acid level may be elevated

  • Broad spectrum intravenous antibiotics to cover bowel flora, e.g., Ampicillin/Gentamicin/Flagyl
  • Optimize blood pressure and blood oxygenation
  • Surgical removal of necrotic (dead) bowel

  • This is a life-threatening illness and immediate emergency medical treatment is needed.

more about Intestinal Ischemia

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